Stamford, Conn.-based General Electric Capital Corp., a diversified financial services company and subsidiary of the General Electric Co., has acquired Chicago-based Heller Financial Inc. for $5.3 billion in cash or $53.75 per share. All required domestic and foreign antitrust and banking regulators have approved the transaction.

The acquisition is the second largest in GE’s history, exceeded only by the company’s purchase of RCA in the mid-1980s. It also puts GE Capital back into the acquisition driver’s seat, as its acquisition spending has waned over the last year. According to Jeanne Terrile, analyst and vice president at Merrill Lynch in New York, GE Capital spent $17.2 billion on acquisitions in 1998, $10.1 billion in 1999 and $1.2 billion in 2000.

"The very modest $1.2 billion that Capital spent on acquisitions in 2000 doesn’t appear to have wounded Capital’s net income growth in 2001," Terrile explained. "This deal serves to remind investors how important ongoing acquisitions are to GE Capital’s earning consistency."

GE Capital Chairman and CEO Denis J. Nayden says his company is enthusiastic about the acquisition. "It provides opportunities for growth, increased shareholder value and an enhanced product service offering for our customers," he said. "Despite a more challenging economic environment, we are more confident than ever about the compelling strategic fit of these organizations and the long-term value that will be derived from combining them."

In the spring ranking of the top direct lenders in commercial real estate by National Real Estate Investor, GE Capital ranked fourth with $9.5 billion financed in calendar year in 2000.

General Electric Capital Corp.

Headquarters: Stamford, Conn.

Chairman/CEO: Denis J. Nayden

Total Assets: more than $370 billion

NYSE symbol: GE

Price as of 10/29/01: $37.87

52-week range: $28.50 low, $56.19 high