Wells Fargo & Co.'s strategy to solicit loans nationally helped it edge past Bank of America Corp. for the top spot among small-business lenders on this year's American Banker survey.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, which is only one-third the asset size of Bank of America, held $9.883 billion in small-business loans on June 30. That was just enough to finish above Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, which had a $9.866 billion portfolio. It's the first time since 1994 that $620 billion-asset Bank of America or NationsBank Corp., its predecessor, did not finish at the top of the list. The survey, based on data from Thomson Financial Sheshunoff Information Services, tracks commercial and industrial loans of less than $1 million. Nonbank lenders such as American Express Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. are not included.

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