March 16, 2015 / 2:02 AM / in 3 years

KKR, Varde, Deutsche seek to securitize $5.3 billion of GE Capital debt: sources

CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) Henry Kravis (C) departs after meeting India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a breakfast in the Manhattan borough of New York September 29, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A group comprising KKR & Co, Varde Partners and Deutsche Bank are looking to securitize about A$7 billion ($5.33 billion) of debt they acquired from a unit of GE, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The consortium said on Sunday that it will acquire GE Capital’s Australian and New Zealand consumer lending arm, marking Australia’s biggest inbound takeover of a finance company.

They agreed to acquire the unit for an enterprise value of A$8.2 billion, including the company’s existing debt that will now be securitized, said the sources, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak on the record.

The deal is expected to boost Australia’s securitization market, driven by demand for high-yielding assets. The market is on track to match the A$45-A$55 billion of asset-backed securities issued annually between 2005 and 2007.

So far in 2015, more than A$10.5 billion of asset-backed securities have already been issued, according to Thomson Reuters data, almost double the volume a year earlier.

The planned A$7 billion securitization by KKR, Varde Partners and Deutsche will be led by Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac, said two other sources involved in the debt negotiations.

Other banks including Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citi are also involved in the negotiations, the sources added.

Securitization bankers told Reuters the consortium is unlikely to raise over A$2 billion domestically even if the pricing is generous, given the relatively small size of the local market. The balance will have to be issued offshore.

The consortium is paying close to A$1.2 billion for the equity portion, which will be roughly equally funded by the three partners, one of the three sources said.

KKR did not respond to an email request seeking comment, while Varde Partners and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

GE is seeking to reduce its exposure to GE Capital’s credit business, which hurt the company during the 2008 financial crisis.

It hired investment banks Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley to run an auction for its GE Money, which offers personal loans, credit cards and personal insurance to its more than 3 million customers in Australia and New Zealand.

The smaller GE Capital that remains will focus on lending in sectors that complement GE’s industrial businesses, such as aviation and energy.

Other bidders who lost out in the race included private equity giant TPG [TPG.UL], Singapore’s GIC [GIC.UL], Macquarie Group and Pepper Australia.

($1 = 1.3132 Australian dollars)

Additional reporting by John Weavers; Editing by Ryan Woo and Michael Perry

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