GE Capital Files For IPO Of Retail Finance Arm In Planned Exit

By Mani
Updated on

General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) in its filing Thursday with the SEC said that after completion of the IPO, the unit will operate under “Synchrony Financial”.

The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SYF.

Spin-off to cut credit risks

As reported earlier, General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) in its concerted effort to reduce credit risks was planning to shrink its finance business by 2015 through the divestiture of its North American consumer lending unit. The strategic move is arguably considered to be the biggest step in restructuring GE Capital’s portfolio to shield the parent company from the intense market volatility that plagued the market during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

The North American consumer lending business includes credit cards to retail giants like Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP). It was reported General Electric would sell 20% of this business through an IPO in 2014. The remaining shares of the unit would be distributed to the shareholders of the parent company in a tax-free transaction.

Thursday’s filing with the SEC

In its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) indicated that as previously announced, it plans to complete the IPO later this year. It also indicated that the company is currently targeting to complete its exit from the Retail Finance business through a split-off transaction in 2015. It also indicated it may decide to exit selling or otherwise distributing or disposing of all or a portion of its remaining interest in the business.

In July, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) designated American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) and GE Capital ‘systemically important’ as they could pose a risk to the U.S. economy if they were to falter. The regulator felt GE Capital is now a significant source of credit to the U.S. economy.

General Electric Company (NYSE:GE)’s IPO move is considered as part of Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt’s effort to reduce credit risks. The divestment would bolster Immelt’s bid to boost the share of earnings from units making industrial goods such as medical scanners. He has been pruning GE Capital since credit markets froze in the 2008-09 financial crisis, imperiling the parent company.

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