Wells Fargo & Co. Chairman Dick Kovacevich told a conference Wednesday that the financial-services company is in a buying mood as it surveys the battered industry, the San Francisco Business Times reported Thursday.

"Wells Fargo often buys fixer-uppers," he said. "Given the financial conditions today I feel like a kid in a candy store. ...We are buying with both hands right now, as we have done for the past year."

Wells Fargo and Citigroup Inc. are reportedly considering bids for Washington Mutual Inc., which is on the auction block and may require government assistance to deal with its mortgage-marred balance sheet.

Kovacevich also told his audience that the current economic downturn differs from earlier ones he's seen, in that problems began with financial-services firms.

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