Exclusive: Three buyout funds vying for GE's $7 billion French banking arm - sources

Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:34pm EDT
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By Pamela Barbaglia and Anjuli Davies

LONDON (Reuters) - Three buyout funds are vying to buy General Electric's (GE.N: Quote) banking unit in France as the U.S. conglomerate presses ahead with its plan to offload its financing operations in Europe, four sources familiar with the matter said.

Private equity groups CVC Capital Partners [CVC.UL], Cerberus Capital Management [CBS.UL] and JC Flowers have placed rival bids for GE Money Bank in France, which has around 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) worth of assets, with mortgages representing a large proportion, the sources said.

Morgan Stanley and Rothschild are leading the sale which is in the final stages and could wrap up in the coming weeks, the sources said.

A spokeswoman at GE Capital declined to comment.

Morgan Stanley, CVC, Cerberus and JC Flowers also declined to comment, while Rothschild had no immediate comment.

GE has so far inked $126 billion in deals -- more than half of its overall target -- since announcing in April it would seek to reduce its GE Capital finance business to less than 10 percent of earnings as it focuses more on manufacturing.

GE Capital accounted for 42 percent of the company's profit in 2014.

In Europe, the U.S. conglomerate has sold businesses including its consumer credit business in Austria and Germany, GE Money Bank Nordics and floated its Swiss consumer lending business.   Continued...

The logo of the GE Money Bank is seen behind a traffic light in Prague May 29, 2012.         REUTERS/David W Cerny