KKR, Varde and Deutsche buy GE Capital consumer finance arm for $6.3 billion

By Reuters

Mar 15, 2015 10:42 AM EDT

A consortium of private equity firm KKR & Co LP (KKR.N), alternative investment manager Varde Partners and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) has agreed to buy GE Capital's Australian and New Zealand consumer lending arm for A$8.2 billion ($6.26 billion).

The trio said in a statement on Sunday they were attracted to a business with more than 3 million customers and a long-standing relationship with many of the major retailers in bothAustralia and New Zealand.

"GE Capital is one of the most respected providers of consumer finance in Australasia," said Ed Bostock, director of KKR Australia. "They are led by a strong management team with an outstanding track record of partnering with the leading retailers."

General Electric Co (GE.N) has been shrinking its financial services arm GE Capital Corp. after it weighed down the group during the 2008-2009 credit crisis.

GE has also disposed of its appliances unit, real estate holdings and a stake in NBCUniversal. The streamlined GE Capital finance unit is focusing on funding purchases of heavy equipment, lend money to mid-sized companies and to invest in commercial real estate.

"This transaction allows us to focus on our strategy to be the world's premier infrastructure technology company with a specialty commercial financial services business," said Geoff Culbert, president and CEO of GE Australia and New Zealand.

"We will continue to work with our customers in key industries including oil and gas, energy, healthcare, aviation and mining."

Duncan Berry, the CEO of GE Capital Australia and New Zealand, said the company would continue to build its commercial mid-market lending portfolio and leasing businesses in the region.

Advisers to GE on the deal are Credit Suisse AG (MLPN.P) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N).

Advisers to the acquiring consortium are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Moelis & Co (MC.N) and Citi (C.N).

Wesfarmers Ltd. (WES.AX) and Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) had also made a joint bid for the business, Australian media reported earlier.

($1 = 1.3096 Australian dollars)

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