June 30, 2015 / 11:44 AM / 2 years ago

GE to sell European private equity financing unit to SMBC

TOKYO (Reuters) - General Electric Co GE.N said it would sell its European private equity financing business to a unit of Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC) for about $2.2 billion as the U.S. conglomerate sheds financial assets amid a restructuring.

Pedestrians are reflected on a sign outside a branch of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Tokyo November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The portfolio represents about $2.2 billion of total invested capital, GE said on Tuesday.

The portfolio carries a wider spread margin than most corporate loans, a source familiar with the matter said.

This makes the deal attractive to the core banking unit of Japan’s third largest bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) 8316.T, which is trying to diversify away from the fiercely competitive corporate lending sector.

Major Japanese banks such as SMFG have been aggressively buying businesses and extending loans overseas to make up for a weak domestic market.

In 2012, SMFG acquired an aircraft leasing company from Royal Bank of Scotland Group RBS.L for $7.3 billion and this year, Mizuho Financial Group Inc 8411.T agreed to buy the U.S. and Canadian loan portfolio of RBS for $3 billion.

In April, GE announced plans to exit $200 billion worth of finance assets which made it subject to government regulation as a financial institution.

The U.S. industrial conglomerate has since signed agreements to sell about $23 billion worth of assets, including the latest deal.

GE Capital’s Japanese commercial finance operations are part of this wider sale process, with one person familiar with the matter valuing them at around $5 billion.

GE is also shedding other assets.

The company said on Monday that it was selling its fleet management arm in the United States, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand for $6.9 billion.

GE is also selling its European fleet segment for an undisclosed sum that a source close to the matter said would be around $3.3 billion.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup Global Markets were GE’s financial advisers and Clifford Chance was its legal adviser.

GE shares closed at $26.64 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. Up to Monday’s close, the stock had risen about 5 percent this year.

Additional reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru

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