J.C. Flowers & Co., CVC Capital Partners, and Cerberus Capital Management have all put out bids on GE’s French banking division, GE Money Bank, which is worth about $6.6 billion. According to Reuters, the deal could be finalized as early as the next few weeks, with advisory firms Rothschild and Morgan Stanley overseeing the transaction.
GE Money Bank’s assets include mostly mortgages. It went into business in 1995 in France with the combination of the French banks Crédit de l’Est and Banque SOVAC. At the end of last year, it employed 750 people and accounted for 42% of GE’s profit.
The specific value of the deal hasn’t been released, but for comparison, GE’s Nordics business, with assets of €2.3bn, was sold to Spain’s Santander for €700m in June 2014.
GE is looking to move away from its financial services assets and consolidate its effort on manufacturing. In April they announced a plan to restructure the company so that capital finance businesses accounted for less than 10% of total company earnings. The hope is that by removing the financing vertical and focusing on the core business of manufacturing, the company will be able to cut costs and raise profit. So far, so good, apparently: GE reported good third quarter earnings earlier this month.
Consolidating company efforts into one area is a popular trend at the moment in other areas of GE’s business as well. Deutsche Bank was hired in May to sell GE Capital Interbanca in Italy, which is worth about €1bn. And in the United States, the only significant GE Capital business remaining is the franchise finance unit, which covers about $5.5 billion worth of assets.
Though GE’s general trend of selling of financial subsidiaries is likely to continue, experts predict that, aside from the sale of GE Money Bank, no other significant European sales will go through before the end of the year.