Norwalk, Conn.-based General Electric Capital Corp. is the financing unit of industrial conglomerate General Electric Co. GE Capital lends money to consumers and businesses around the world, including clients of the parent company's aviation and energy units. Its commercial arm offers a range of business financing such as leasing, lending, fleet services, inventory finance, franchise financing, asset-based and cash flow loans, acquisition and buyout financing, commercial real estate and health-care financial product and services. Its consumer arm’s businesses include credit cards, mortgages, home-equity loans and insurance.
Parent General Electric has long topped lists of most-admired companies, and retired CEO Jack Welch is near legendary, as is the company’s process-driven culture. The company fully embraces the Six Sigma quality-improvement process and regularly culls the bottom 10% of its staff. GE Capital President Mike Neal has been at the company for 30 years and has been described as a "risk averse" executive who enjoys sailboats and his Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle.
Worries over GE Capital's financial strength amid the global financial crisis have caused the parent company to lose its once-exalted status and its coveted triple-A credit rating. Analysts have cited concerns over “potential time bombs" in its assets, including delinquent loans. The company is reportedly relying on U.S. government guarantees for much its debt. Also in 2008, it acquired most of Merrill Lynch and Co. Inc.’s middle-market commercial finance business.