GE mulling purchase of Latvian bank

  • 2006-07-26
  • From wire reports
RIGA - GE Money, a Latvian subsidiary of U.S.-based General Electric, is reportedly considering the purchase of a local bank as a springboard to expanding local business operations. The business daily Dienas Bizness reported last week that GE Money might buy Baltic Trust Bank, though there was no confirmation from either company.

GE Money Chairman Dmitrijs Cimbers said that the company was reviewing various options for its Baltic operations, though he declined to provide details.
In June of this year, Sweden's GE Money Bank registered in Latvia and joined the Latvian Commercial Banks' Association. Also, GE Money marketing director Girts Freibergs has said that opening a representation office was related to the possibility of opening a bank branch or receiving a banking license. He did not rule out the possibility of GE Money becoming the sole owner or co-owner of some existing bank.

Sweden's GE Money Bank AB and Latvia's GE Money are subsidiaries of General Electric Consumer Finance, which belongs to the U.S. corporation General Electric. GE Money Bank AB is a universal bank with branches in Norway and Denmark.
Baltic Trust Bank ranked 14th among the 23 banks working in Latvia by assets at the end of this May. The bank is 94.2-percent owned by Finstar Baltic Investments, which is controlled by Russian millionaire Oleg Boyko.
Meanwhile, Nora Grase, a GE Money spokeswoman, said last week that GE companies operated in six different fields, but so far the corporation was represented in Latvia only in the financial sphere and a little in transport and health care. The company wants to study the Latvian market and see whether operations in other fields could be launched here, she said.

To do so, GE has founded a branch of GE International Inc in Latvia that will do the market analysis, said Grase, but no specific time for starting the market research was known yet.
GE is among the world's largest corporations and does business in six fields 's finances, consumer lending, health care, industry, infrastructure and media. It is represented in about 160 world countries.