Blackstone Group LP and Wells Fargo & Co have teamed to buy a pool of about $600 million (373 billion pounds) in loans on U.S. commercial property from Allied Irish Banks Plc , according to a source familiar with the agreement.

The deal, the most recent in a spate of such sales by Irish banks, allows the two to buy the portfolio of loans backed by hotels, office buildings and retail properties for about 15 percent to 20 percent off the face value, the source said.

The agreement was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Blackstone declined comment. Wells Fargo did not return a phone call.

How the loans will be split was not known, but in many previous loan portfolio sales, banks have taken most of the performing loans while real estate investors and investment funds with an appetite for more risk have taken the more distressed loans.

That was the case in the sale in August of a $9.2 billion U.S. loan book by Irish Bank Resolution Corp, formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank Corp Ltd . The portfolio was sold to Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Lone Star Funds.

During the U.S. commercial real estate boom that lasted from about 2004 through most of 2007, Irish banks were among the most aggressive lenders. But when the market plunged in 2008, those banks were hampered with billions in soured loans. Many properties today have lost nearly half their value.

In August, Wells Fargo agreed to buy a $1.4 billion loan portfolio backed by U.S. commercial property from Bank of Ireland .

(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)