GE stock soars on plan to sell off GE Capital, real estate
GE to back out of financial services, focus on industrial business
General Electric is getting out of the lending business, a major profit generator, as it focuses more on its industrial business and sheds a massive financial unit that had its own set of risks.
In addition to the sale of GE Capital, the company will sell most of its GE Capital Real Estate to funds managed by Blackstone, and Wells Fargo will buy a portion of the performing loans at closing. The company also plans to sell additional commercial real estate assets that will bring the total value of the deal to around $26.5 billion.
The company also said it will buy back as much as $50 billion of its own stock, a move that GE says will offset the financial hit it expects to record in the first quarter as a result of the reorganization.
The company said market conditions were favourable to sell most GE Capital over the next two years. The extended run of low-interest rates has made the sale of a huge asset like this more feasible.
Financial services is half of GE profit
The financial division has generated almost half of the company's profit, but is also is a huge regulatory burden and has caused some anxiety for investors.
"The business model for large, wholesale-funded financial companies has changed, making it increasingly difficult to generate acceptable returns going forward," GE said.
GE said it's already in talks with regulators.
"This is a major step in our strategy to focus GE around its competitive advantages," GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said.
The Connecticut-based company will keep parts of its financing business related to its industrial operations, like GE Capital Aviation Services, Energy Financial Services and Healthcare Equipment Finance — which support the company's industrial equipment businesses in the airline, oilfield and medical sectors.
The company says it will record about $16 billion in after-tax charges in the first quarter.