Wells Fargo has joined a growing list of banks that are exploring options to return government bailout money, CNBC has learned.
The San Francisco-based bank has put out inquiries to institutional funds to see who would be interested in buying chunks of Wells Fargo stock in $250 million to $500 million increments.
Wells received $25 billion in funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Other large institutions are looking to shed their TARP debts in an effort to escape government limits on executive pay.
The company's shares have slipped about 6 percent this week as talk of the capital-raise has escalated.
If it does move to start repaying TARP money, Wells will join a host of other mega-financials that have repaid the government debts or are in the process of doing so.
Citigroup reportedly is about to conduct a $15 billion capital raise, while Bank of America , the largest US bank, on Wednesday said it had finished repaying the $45 billion it borrowed under TARP.
The other original TARP recipients, including Goldman Sachs , JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley , paid the government back in June.
FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said last week that regulators must be "very careful" in how they approach repayments from the TARP because big banks will not be bailed out again, should conditions worsen.