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GE could select lending-business buyer soon

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ares Management submitted bids for General Electric Co.’s U.S. private-equity lending business.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ares Management submitted bids Thursday for General Electric Co.’s U.S. private-equity lending business, according to Bloomberg News.

Apollo Global Management and Guggenheim Securities also made offers, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public.

GE could select a buyer as soon as this week, one person told Bloomberg News. Canada Pension Plan, the country’s largest such fund manager, was viewed as the frontrunner after submitting the best initial offer earlier this month, the person said. The latest bids were due Thursday, the people said.

GE has begun a separate sale process for most of its U.S. commercial loan and leasing unit, the people said. The Fairfield, Conn.-based company asked potential buyers to sign non-disclosure agreements to review the financial details for $40 billion of loans in the vendor finance, equipment leasing and commercial lending operations, the people said.

GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt has been moving the company away from lending since GE Capital put the parent company at risk during the 2008-09 financial crisis. The move accelerated with an April 10 agreement to sell most of GE’s real estate to Blackstone Group LP and Wells Fargo & Co. for $23 billion.

With heavy interest from prospective buyers, the disposal of GE Capital’s assets is going faster than anticipated, Immelt said in a May 20 presentation. The company could announce as much as $30 billion of sales by the end of June.

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