“We do not have an interest in acquiring GE’s portfolio in total,” Chief Financial Officer Robert Lyons said today in a telephone interview. “If somebody else bought it and at some point looked to sell parts of the portfolio, we would look at that just like we do look at a lot of transactions.”
GE is seeking buyers for its rail-car leasing business and has hired Morgan Stanley (MS) as an adviser, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. Chicago-based GATX discussed a bid of more than $3 billion for the GE business in 2008, people with knowledge of the talks said at the time.
“We’re not engaged in any process at all and don’t intend to be in terms of the entire portfolio,” Lyons said.
While retaining an investment-grade credit rating is a priority, “that would not necessarily preclude buying any portfolio as long as the transaction was financed appropriately,” Lyons said.
He told a May 10 JMP Securities Research conference that a deal “upwards of” $1 billion was manageable “without undue pressure” on GATX’s creditworthiness.
GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, said this month it is exploring alternatives for the rail unit, without discussing details. GATX said in 2008 after the initial GE talks were reported that it had backed away from potential deals because the prices were too high, without identifying any companies.
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