TOKYO, May 29 (Reuters) - Japan’s Shinsei Bank Ltd is interested in GE Capital’s Asia-Pacific operations, its president said, as the mid-sized lender tries to grow its business into niche markets to stave off competition from bigger rivals.
In April, General Electric Co said it would shed most of its finance unit as part of a restructuring. GE Capital’s Japanese commercial finance operations are part of the sale, people familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier, with one person valuing the assets at around $5 billion.
Incoming President Hideyuki Kudo, who will take office in June, told Reuters the bank was looking into the deal. The bank bought GE’s Japanese consumer finance operation for $5.4 billion in 2008.
“I don’t know whether the assets will be sold in one package or in pieces nor what kind of time frame the sale will be conducted, but we would like to respond to a variety of possible patterns,” Kudo said in an interview.
“In any case, it’s a very attractive deal.”
With just about 9 trillion yen ($74 billion) in total assets, Shinsei has targeted sectors such as healthcare and consumer finance to survive in the face of rival major lenders with assets up to 30 times bigger and regional banks with deeper ties with local businesses.
Consumer finance offers unsecured loans to retail customers, and Shinsei was among the bidders for Standard Chartered’s Hong Kong consumer finance unit, Reuters has previously reported.
Kudo said the bank was always on the look out for opportunities to get into consumer finance in emerging markets.
“We are looking at growing economies, for instance Vietnam and China,” he said. “We might do it on our own or team up with others.”
Kudo started his banking career in 1987 at what is now called Mizuho Bank. After a stint at an investment fund, he joined Shinsei in 2010. Shinsei is about 20 percent owned by an investor group led by U.S. buyout firm JC Flowers and 18 percent by the Japanese government. ($1 = 121.7200 yen) (Editing by Miral Fahmy)