In a decision that underscores the increasingly
global nature of its operations, US-based GE Money – the consumer
finance arm of multinational technology conglomerate General
Electric (GE) – has announced that it will be moving its
headquarters to London. It is currently the world’s largest
provider of private-label credit cards, with around $200 billion in
assets.
The announcement of the move coincided with the
news that David Nissen, the head of GE Money for the past 15 years,
will be replaced by William Cary, who currently leads the
division’s European, Middle Eastern and African operations. Cary, a
21-year veteran of the company and a graduate of GE’s Financial
Management Programme, is already based in London. His unit alone
accounted for about half of GE Money’s $4.2 billion profit last
year.
“As the leader of GE Money’s business outside
the US, Bill [Cary] has shown a great eye for growth, business
discipline and strong leadership,” said GE chairman and CEO Jeffrey
Immelt. “Given his experience in global markets, and his strong
financial expertise and experience, Bill is the perfect GE leader
to drive change and growth at GE Money.”

Globalisation of business

According to GE, Cary’s appointment and the move to London were
natural for a business that derives nearly 75 percent of its
profits from outside the US. “It is emblematic of the globalisation
of our business,” said a senior official from the company. After GE
Money relocates to the UK capital, two of GE’s six divisions –
accounting for approximately 25 percent of the conglomerate’s
annual sales – will be headquartered in the UK. GE’s healthcare
business has been based in the UK since it purchased diagnostics
group Amersham in 2004.

GE Money’s dependence on foreign earnings has
been exacerbated by the recent US credit card and subprime market
meltdown. In 2007, the company sold most of its subprime mortgage
division WMC, taking a hit of nearly $1 billion. In December, GE
said it would sell all or part of its US store-branded credit card
business after its performance was hit by the credit crunch.