Heller Is Sold for $5.3 Billion

The former small-business lender's move to the midmarket made it an attractive acquisition for GE Capital

Heller Financial, which until this year was a leading nonbank small-business lender, is being sold to GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric Co., for about $5.3 billion in cash.

Heller pulled out of the Small Business Administration loan market in February 2001 to focus exclusively on middle-market companies with annual revenues between $5 million and $250 million.

It seems that the move to reach the middle market made Heller an attractive position for GE Capital. As he announced the purchase on July 30, 2001, Denis J. Nayden, Chairman and CEO of GE Capital, said, "Heller is a successful, world-class company with a strong commitment to the middle market whose core businesses fit perfectly with our own. Through this transaction, we gain not only the benefits of complementary services and geographic reach, but also the ability to provide new products."

Until this year, Heller Financial had been one of the largest nonbank generators of SBA loans, funding $459 million in SBA 7(a) loans in fiscal year 2000. Although out of the small-business market, Heller has still been servicing small-business clients in the areas of equipment leasing, real estate financing, and health-care financing.

By Robin J. Phillips in New York

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