GE Said to Seek First Bids for Japan Leasing Unit in August

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The General Electric Co. (GE) Logo
The General Electric Co. (GE) logo. “This partnership will provide a platform for growth in the dynamic consumer finance market,” George Hicks, co-chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based Värde Partners, said in a statement. Photographer: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg

General Electric Co. will seek initial bids for its Japanese leasing business in late August, said people with knowledge of the situation.

GE will distribute documents with information on the business to potential bidders later this month, according to the people, who asked not to be named as the sale process is confidential. The Japanese leasing operation has 500 billion yen ($4.1 billion) of assets and 1,000 employees.

The sale is part of GE’s plan unveiled in April to offload about $200 billion of financial operations worldwide as it focuses on its industrial roots. The U.S. company has so far reached deals to divest about $23 billion of assets, including the $2.2 billion sale of its European buyout-finance unit to Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc.

GE’s Japanese finance arm does commercial lending as well as leasing of automobiles, office equipment and construction machinery. The bidding process was delayed by about a month as it took time to determine which assets would be included in the sale, the people said.

Sumito Koike, a spokesman for GE in Tokyo, declined to comment on the schedule.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company plans to choose two or three candidates after the first round of bidding, according to the people. It’s looking to hold the second bid in November and make an agreement with the buyer by the year’s end, they said.

Morgan Stanley

GE hired Morgan Stanley to advise on the transaction, people familiar with the matter said in May. Orix Corp., Century Tokyo Leasing Corp., IBJ Leasing Co. and leasing units of Sumitomo Mitsui and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. are among those interested, spokesmen for the companies reiterated Friday.

GE has operated in Japan since 1886, when it provided electric generators to a government printing factory. It had 4,600 employees in the country as of March 2014, according to its website. As well as finance and leasing, GE has businesses in Japan spanning areas from health care to energy and water.

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