Wells Fargo eyes $74bn GE unit

The bank is in discussions about acquiring the US commercial lending and leasing operation, according to reports.

Wells Fargo is in talks to buy mid-market lender GE Capital’s $74 billion US commercial lending and leasing operation, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported.

The San Francisco-headquartered bank started discussions to acquire the unit and its assets last week.

GE Capital and Wells Fargo declined to comment.

Wells Fargo already has a commercial finance business called Wells Fargo Capital Finance that offers asset-based lending, equipment financing, commercial real estate and supply chain finance, across the US, Canada and the UK.

GE Capital’s US commercial lending and leasing unit operates in the US, Canada and Mexico and provides equipment and inventory financing, capital for corporate acquisitions, refinancings and restructurings to nearly 300,000 customers, according to its website.

Similarly, the firm’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division provides working capital and asset finance, including acquisition finance, to more than 350,000 customers and has $80 billion in assets.

General Electric chief executive Jeff Immelt announced just over a week ago that it would sell GE Capital, saying that GE could offer better value to shareholders as an industrial company with the financing side stripped out. The firm will retain its aviation, healthcare and energy financing businesses, however. A spokesperson said that the business would likely be sold in pieces. 

In tandem with the sale announcement, it was revealed that Wells Fargo along with Blackstone had bought the majority of GE Capital’s real estate operations for around $23 billion.

In March, GE announced that it would sell its consumer finance business in Australia and New Zealand to a consortium comprised of alternative investment firms Värde Partners and KKR along with Deutsche Bank for AUD$8.2 billion. GE Capital had almost $499 billion in assets under management as at end of 2014.