GE sells Australia-New Zealand lending arm for $6.3 bn

Sydney (AFP) - General Electric has sold its consumer lending arm in Australia and New Zealand to an investment consortium including Germany's Deutsche Bank and US investment firm KKR for $6.3 billion, the company said.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is one of the biggest in the Asia-Pacific region so far this year, according to the Wall Street Journal, and is the latest step in the American conglomerate's efforts to scale back its financial division, GE Capital.

GE Capital's Australia and New Zealand units were sold for Aus$8.2 billion to the consortium made up of Deutsche Bank, KKR and Varde Partners, the American company said in a statement on Sunday.

The lending arm offers personal loans, credit cards and other financial services with more than three million total customers, GE said in the statement. All of the products and services will be retained under the new ownership.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE in January reported a robust jump in profits for the fourth quarter of 2014 as it shifts its focus back to its core industrial roots.

GE, which is considered a bellweather of global industrial activity, said in January that profits for the preceding three-month period rose 61 percent year-on-year.

It has sought to sell off various financial assets in recent months in addition to its Australia and New Zealand operations.

Last month, the Hungarian government said it would pay $700 million to buy Budapest Bank from GE, while the firm sold GE Money Bank to Spain's Santander in November.

It has also spun off the retail finance business of the GE Capital division, renaming it Synchrony Financial.