GE officially exits the banking business

By Kevin Zimmerman

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General Electric’s exit from the banking business is complete, with the company finalizing the sale of GE Capital Bank’s U.S. deposits to Goldman Sachs. The deal, approved by federal regulators in March, includes GE Capital transferring $16 billion in online deposits to Goldman’s GS Bank USA.

Goldman – the investment banking firm often criticized for its role in the 2008 economic crisis, in part because it posted record profits in 2009 on the heels of the federal bailout – is in the midst of trying to partially reinvent itself by moving focus away from its traditional customer base of institutions and towards individuals. As of April 18, GS Bank was allowing individuals to make online deposits to savings accounts of as little as $1, as compared with the $10 million minimum it reportedly requires for large companies.

GE’s exit from the banking marketplace is looking particularly well-timed in the face of Goldman’s first-quarter results released earlier this week, which showed revenue at $6.34 billion — compared to $10.62 billion for the first quarter of 2015. The figures mark Goldman’s fourth straight quarter of profit declines.

Meanwhile, last month GE — in the midst of relocating from Fairfield to Boston — announced that it was selling its GE Asset Management division in Stamford to Boston-based asset management firm State Street Corp. for a reported $485 million. State Street has indicated the office’s 275 employees will remain in Stamford.

In yet another deal with potential regional implications, Wells Fargo — which in March completed the purchase of the North American portions of GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance and Vendor Finance businesses as well as a portion of its Corporate Finance business, totaling $27.4 billion of assets — reportedly plans to move those employees into Danbury’s Lee Farm Corporate Park.

Calls to confirm that report to Fairfield-based Summit Development, which co-owns the property, went unreturned. A Wells Fargo spokeswoman would say only that “At this time, we cannot comment on this matter.”

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