SAN FRANCISCO — Wells Fargo is plunging back into the commercial mortgage-backed securities market that helped fell Wachovia Corp., the bank it bought in 2008 for $12.7 billion.

Wells Fargo has added more than 20 bankers and support personnel during the past three months to increase loan originations and bundle them into CMBS, said Ed Blakey, who’s leading the effort with John Shrewsberry. Wells Fargo anticipates selling bonds, although the executives declined in an interview to give a date.

“We believe there is going to be a resurgence of CMBS, and we are investing in anticipation of it,” said Blakey, head of commercial-mortgage lending and servicing. “Our pipeline is growing and we intend to be a leader of this market.”

Wells Fargo is pushing ahead in a market that Wachovia controlled before it reported more than $2.1 billion in losses tied to CMBS in 2007 and 2008. Wachovia was the No. 1 underwriter from 2005 to 2007, with $81 billion of commercial mortgage-backed bonds, Bloomberg data show.

Commercial property values have declined 39 percent from the 2007 peak, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The decline has made underwriting loans less risky, and banks can dictate more conservative terms and choose the most creditworthy borrowers, said Shrewsberry, head of the company’s securities and investment group.

Wells Fargo is the top U.S. commercial real-estate lender, with more than $27 billion in loans last year, almost triple the amount of runner-up PNC Financial Services Group.


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