General Electric Co has ended the auction of its roughly $3 billion railcar leasing business, making it the second time in three years the conglomerate has tried unsuccessfully to do so, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The exact reasons for the auction's failure were not clear, but one source said financing was likely an issue, indicating that funding the purchase of a large leasing business remains challenging despite improved credit conditions.

Morgan Stanley , which was advising GE on the sale, had offered potential buyers partial financing to help purchase the unit, but the bidders were not comfortable with the terms, the source said.

GE officials did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

GE put the business on the block earlier this year as part of its continuing effort to trim its GE Capital unit. GE tried selling the business in 2008 as well, just as the financial crisis took hold. At the time, GATX Corp offered more than $3 billion for the unit, but it could not seal a deal because of financing problems.

This time around, the unit drew bids from several private equity firms, including a consortium of Warburg Pincus and TPG Capital , and Cerberus Capital Management and Apollo Management , people familiar with the matter told Reuters previously.

Others including Vestar Capital Partners and Greenbriar Equity Group, billionaire investors Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross, and Australia's Macquarie Group had also been interested, the people said at that time.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Paritosh Bansal, editing by Maureen Bavdek)