"There is clearly a restructuring and shrinking of European financial institutions. And many of the assets they're shedding are in the United States," said Timothy Sloan, chief financial officer of Wells Fargo & Co.
Wells Fargo recently purchased $3.3 billion in real estate assets from Anglo Irish Bank and $2.4 billion in assets from the Bank of Ireland.
"We're keeping our eyes and ears open for the right situations," Sloan told The New York Times.
Similarly, the Times reported Monday, investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts sent a team from London to Greece to explore an investment Greek banks were unwilling to consider, given the dire conditions of the Greek economy.
"If no one is willing to turn over the rocks, that's when you can make extraordinary investments. The market dislocation in Greece is creating significant opportunities that wouldn't be otherwise available," said Kohlberg Kravis co-head of the firm's special situations team Nathaniel Zilkha.
Google recently went to Ireland to shop, purchasing the Montevetro building in Dublin from Ireland's National Asset Management Agency.
The building fell into their hands as the result of a massive Irish bank rescue program, the Times reported.
Some assets are selling in a hurry to comply with regulators' demand that banks increase their capital cushion in the event of the economic downturn turning worse.
Commerzbank in Germany is under such orders and has to raise $6.9 billion by mid-2012. With that impetus behind it, U.S. investment firm Blackstone Group as agreed to purchase $300 million in the bank's real estate assets.
"As people become increasingly negative on the environment there, we think we are buying good companies at very good values," said Blackstone's Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman.
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