U.S. regulators have for the first time stripped the “systemically important” label from a financial institution, finding that GE Capital no longer needs to be subject to strict post-crisis rules.
The decision by the Financial Stability Oversight Council recognizes GE’s efforts to shed assets not directly related to its core industrial core business lines and, according to The Wall Street Journal, “could be a sign of things to come for other titans of finance.”
Since the FSOC labeled it systemically important in July 2013, GE Capital has “executed significant divestitures, transformed its funding model, and implemented a corporate reorganization,” the council said Wednesday in a news release.
“These and other changes at GE Capital … have significantly reduced the potential for GE Capital’s material financial distress to threaten U.S. financial stability,” it added.
GE announced in April 2015 that it would sell off most of GE Capital, which was then a $500 billion lending business and one of the largest banking businesses in the U.S. but had almost sunk GE during the financial crisis.
The company has so far signed agreements for the sale of about $180 billion of GE Capital businesses and has closed about $156 billion of those transactions.
For the oversight council, the WSJ said, “the change is a significant response to critics who have said its process for tagging ‘systemic firms is opaque and doesn’t give firms a clear road map on how to reduce risk.”
“Today’s decision clearly demonstrates that the council’s designation of non-bank financial companies is a two-way process,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said. “The council follows the facts: When it identifies a company that could threaten financial stability, it acts; when those risks change, the council also acts.”
GE Capital’s CEO Keith Sherin said the decision reflects “the transformation of GE Capital into a smaller, safer financial services company that meaningfully contributes to the success of GE’s industrial businesses.”
“We will continue to re-evaluate our capital requirements to reflect our reduced risk profile and right size our organization as we go forward,” he added.