General Electric Co. is seeking buyers for a rail-car leasing business with about $3 billion of assets and hired Morgan Stanley as an adviser, after a 2008 sale effort failed, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Potential bidders are likely to include private-equity firms and rail-car leasing competitors, said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. Initial bids are due next week, the people said.
The attempted sale revives a push to market the unit before the financial crisis, when GE discussed an offer of more than $3 billion from freight-car lessor GATX Corp., people familiar with the matter said at the time. GE has been working to shrink the share of profit generated by its GE Capital finance division.
GE is “exploring alternatives for the business,” said Russell Wilkerson, a spokesman for the Fairfield, Connecticut- based company, declining to discuss details. Pen Pendleton, a spokesman for New York-based Morgan Stanley, declined to comment. The Deal reported on the sale plan yesterday.
American International Group Inc., the insurer rescued by the U.S. government, agreed last month to sell a rail-car leasing unit to Perella Weinberg Partners LP. That accord valued AIG’s business at about $600 million, people familiar with the matter said last month.
Rail volumes excluding grain and coal shipments rose 7.9 percent to 4.6 million carloads in the three months ended March 31, according to data compiled by the Association of American Railroads in Washington. It was the second-highest increase in a first quarter, following last year’s 9.3 percent gain.
Shipments in that category represent the bulk of materials used in industrial production, so an increase in volumes bodes well for the broader economy, according to John Mims, a transportation analyst in Richmond, Virginia, at BB&T Corp.
GE fell 41 cents, or 2 percent, to $20.23 at 12:38 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading as broad U.S. indexes declined.
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