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A customer enters the Wells Fargo bank branch in Golden, Colo., in this file photo.RICK WILKING/Reuters

Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to buy about $32-billion in assets from General Electric Co. and take on about 3,000 employees as the industrial giant retreats from financial services.

The sale includes commercial-distribution, vendor and corporate finance units from GE Capital, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo said Tuesday in a statement that didn't include additional terms. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016 and would allow GE's finance unit to return about $4.2-billion of capital to its parent, GE said in a separate statement.

With the purchase, Wells Fargo would become one of the biggest buyers of GE assets. In September, the lender agreed to purchase the bulk of a railcar– and locomotive-leasing unit from the company, and earlier this year, Wells Fargo said it would acquire GE real estate assets.

"This acquisition is an outstanding opportunity for Wells Fargo to deepen relationships and strengthen our presence in key commercial lending markets," Tim Sloan, head of Wells Fargo's wholesale banking division, said in the statement.

About 90 per cent of the loan and lease portfolios are based in the U.S. or Canada, Wells Fargo said.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG were the bankers for GE, which got legal advice from Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP. Wells Fargo Securities served as financial adviser for the acquirer and Mayer Brown offered legal advice.

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