GE Capital expands into leasing in India

GE Capital expands into leasing in India

Mumbai: GE Capital Services India on Thursday said it will extend its presence in equipment and auto leasing business in India. It is now present in credit cards, corporate lending, energy services and private equity.

“Indian companies spend only 2% in leasing, much lower than the 12% global average and 17% in the US," said Sameer Maheshwary, senior vice-president of GE Capital. “We believe this market will grow more than the gross domestic product (GDP)," he added.

GE is looking at the business of leasing equipment for construction companies, technology systems like automated teller machines (ATMs) and information technology equipment, besides renting out cars to companies for use by their employees.

“We already have over 3,000 cars leased out to employees of large corporates in India; we have also funded various classes of equipment, including ATM machines, construction equipment, X-ray and MRI machines, IT equipment and corporate aircraft recently," GE said in a emailed statement.

In India, it also leases aircraft to companies, while its international parent leases commercial aircraft to airlines such as Jet Airways Ltd.

Anish Shah, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at GE Capital India, acknowledged that the company faces a challenge to get into a market in which other firms are already established.

“Our pricing will be higher but we expect customers on the basis of our service and history. We are in active discussions with more than 100 customers and have signed a number of top Indian companies for leasing," Shah said.

Sunil Kanoria, vice-chairman at Kolkata based Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd, said leasing in India has not taken off as per potential because of multiplicity of taxes.

“Inter-state taxes has led to complications. One hopes that the new goods and services tax (GST) will help business," he said.

GST aims to stitch together a common market, which is expected to translate into lower prices and eventually higher revenue for all governments.

Shah said GE does not want to add new consumer businesses to the credit card joint venture with the State Bank of India and a small home loan portfolio.

Along with State Bank of India, it runs two credit card firms—one for marketing and another for processing. The card venture suffered losses for three consecutive years, between fiscal 2007-08 and 2009-10, on account of rising bad loans.

“We have been making money in India. Our core businesses have been growing consistently over the past eight quarters, at the annual rate of more than 50%," Shah said, but declined to give exact numbers, citing regulatory restrictions.