GE Finance Unit to Hop the Pond

There's no stopping the forces of globalization, but some are concerned that this iconic American company is moving so many high-paying jobs offshore.
Stephen TaubFebruary 8, 2008

General Electric is moving the headquarters of its consumer and small-business financial-services unit from Connecticut to London.

A senior GE official told The Financial Times that the relocation of GE Money “is emblematic of the globalization” of its business. The unit racks up $25 billion in revenues per year. After the relocation, two of GE’s six divisions will be headquartered in Britain. The conglomerate’s health-care business has been based there since GE bought Amersham in 2004.

In conjunction with the move, GE named William Cary president and CEO of GE Money, succeeding David Nissen, who is retiring.

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Cary has headed GE Money Europe, Middle East and Africa, the largest group within GE Money, since February 2006. He is a 21-year GE veteran and has run several GE financial businesses, including GE Capital Vendor Financial Services. Cary has also served in two senior corporate financial positions at GE: vice president for financial planning and analysis and vice president of investor relations. He is a graduate of GE’s Financial Management Program.

The financial-services unit ran into trouble last year, forcing GE to record $2 billion of write-downs for its Japanese consumer-lending unit and its U.S. subprime-lending unit, The Wall Street Journal noted.

“GE’s announcement is indicative of the dynamic and global nature of business today and the reality that corporations have the ability to locate their operations in the markets that best suit their needs,” says Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Capital Markets, Economic and Information Security Task Force under the House Republican Policy Committee. “GE has a long and storied history in the United States, and it should raise concern when a company of its stature moves its headquarters and many high-paying jobs to another country.

“GE’s announcement should serve as a call to action for U.S. policymakers to improve the regulatory and legal environment here to ensure the United States maintains its position as the world’s financial center.”