Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group’s (SMFG) leasing arm won a months-long bidding race for General Electric Co.’s (GE) Japanese commercial lending business Friday, according to the Nikkei Asian Financial Review. The deal, valued at $4.6 billion, could be signed as soon as next week, Nikkei said.
GE had narrowed down its search for suitors to SMFG’s leasing unit and Japanese Shinsei Bank Ltd. in November. The sale, which includes roughly 500 billion yen ($4.13 billion) in assets and 1,000 employees, attracted a number of bidders, including Orix Corp., Shinsei, Sumitomo, and megabank-affiliated leasing companies.
SMFG’s leasing operation, known as Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing, is currently Japan’s third-largest leasing company with 4.6 trillion yen ($38.03 billion) in assets at the end of March. The addition of GE's business, which includes auto loans and loans for heavy machinery, will put the company in second place ahead of Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance . The group snapped up GE’s European private-equity financing business for $2.2 billion in July.
On Friday, Sumitomo’s stock was down marginally in Tokyo while GE’s shares fell 1.31 percent in New York.
The divestments are the latest amid GE’s drive to shed most of its global financial operations and become a "simpler" industrial business. In March, the company agreed to sell the consumer lending business of GE Capital in Australia and New Zealand to an investor group for an estimated $6.26 billion, and weeks later, it announced the sale of a major chunk of its U.S. commercial lending business.
GE’s restructuring plan also includes buying back up to $50 billion of its shares and selling about $30 billion in real estate assets over the next two years.