General Electric will sell off its fleet management and automotive financing business units by 2018 under a strategic plan to focus on its core businesses and shed most of its finance and banking businesses, the company has announced.
GE expects to recoup $35 billion by breaking up the GE Capital lending unit and selling off most of its components. GE announced a deal to sell off $26.5 billion worth of real estate holdings on April 10.
The selling off of GE Capital units will include GE Capital Fleet Services, which is part of US CLL, a commercial lending and leasing unit specializing in middle-market financing to dealers, franchisees, and companies with $10 million to $1 billion in annual revenue. GE Capital reported $9 billion in ending net investment for the fourth quarter of 2014 for its global fleet business and $74 billion from US CLL.
GE Capital is "fully committed to serving customers during this period and going forward until a sale is complete. Nothing changes in our relationship with customers today. All customer agreements will remain in place," according to a statement from the company.
"In fleet, we have a strong franchise with talented professionals, deep customer relationships and great technology and service offerings," said Kristi Webb, GE Capital Fleet Services' chief executive. "We are focused on continuing to deliver for customers and helping them grow and meet their goals."
Corporate parent GE cited several factors for its decision to divest these business units in an investors call, including a weakening in its competitive position, the position of finance as a non-core business, an attractive market for the sales, and the Dodd-Frank regulatory environment. GE has been working with federal regulators to "de-designate" GE Capital as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI).
The sale of GE Capital Fleet would mean an ownership change for the top U.S. fleet management. In mid-2014, PHH Corp. sold off the No. 3 fleet management company in the U.S. (PHH Arval) to Element Financial Corp. Discussions are also underway for the sale of the No. 4 U.S. fleet management company, LeasePlan USA.
In 2013, GE Capital Fleet Services reported 829,731 vehicles funded and managed in the U.S., including 447,234 funded vehicles.