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GE Money: Feeling the GE force

GE Money, the consumer finance and banking arm of General Electric, is growing quickly in central and eastern Europe. Sudip Roy talks to two of the firm’s senior executives about its expansion plans.

An emerging markets powerhouse

EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS DOMINATE the competitive central and eastern European banking market. Italy’s UniCredit, Austria’s Erste and Raiffeisen, Belgium’s KBC and France’s Société Générale are by far the biggest international banks in the region, with a combined total asset pool of $290 billion. The US banks, in contrast, are largely conspicuous by their absence. There are two exceptions, though. One is the ubiquitous Citi. The other is the equally ubiquitous but perhaps less flamboyant GE Money, the consumer finance and banking arm of the industrial conglomerate General Electric.

Over the past 15 years, GE Money has established itself as a coming force in emerging Europe. It now has a presence in eight countries (the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Turkey) achieved primarily through acquisitions and strategic partnerships – a policy it has replicated throughout its international businesses. "We’ve grown through 90 acquisitions," says Dave Nissen, chief executive and president of the firm – and in a relatively short amount of time. "GE Money didn’t really exist outside the US until the early 1990s so it’s a relatively young business," he adds.

In central and eastern Europe, the firm’s growth has accelerated, especially since the turn of the century.

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