UPDATE 2-GE close to selling private equity lender to top Canada pension fund

Sun Jun 7, 2015 3:24pm EDT
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(Updates with source confirming deal is near)

NEW YORK, June 7 (Reuters) - General Electric Co is nearing an agreement to sell its private equity lending unit to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Canada's biggest pension fund, according to a source familiar with the matter.

GE and the CPPIB are aiming to sign the deal Monday, the Wall Street Journal first reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Terms are still being negotiated for a takeover that would include more than $10 billion of assets, but less than the unit's full book of $16 billion, the newspaper added.

Officials at GE and CPPIB did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The private equity lending unit includes GE Antares Capital and The Senior Secured Loan Program (SSLP), a lending platform jointly managed by GE Capital and Ares Capital which had $9.9 billion of funded commitments at Dec. 31, 2014, according to Fitch Ratings.

GE's retreat from lending and broader move to reduce its exposure to its finance arm comes as U.S. regulators curb aggressive lending by financial institutions that could pose systemic risk.

GE announced plans in April to exit $200 billion worth of finance assets as it focuses on the manufacturing of industrial products.

CPPIB had already started a direct lending business in an effort to invest more in high-yielding assets that will help it fund its long-term liabilities. Were it to clinch the deal, it would become one of the largest lenders to private equity firms in North America.

The CPPIB manages the assets of the Canada Pension Plan, a social insurance program that forms part of Canada's public retirement system. (Reporting by Lewis S. Krauskopf, Greg Roumeliotis; Writing by Catherine Ngai; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Eric Walsh)