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BMO Harris grabs its piece of the GE pie

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BMO Harris Bank is about to become the top lender to the U.S. trucking industry.

The Canadian parent of Chicago’s second-largest bank by deposits has agreed to acquire the transportation finance business of GE Capital, adding what will end up being more than $8.7 billion in loans and leases when the deal closes late this year.

GE’s Irving, Texas-based unit, which lends to truck manufacturers, dealers and purchasers, has the leading market share in the country, BMO Harris CEO Dave Casper said in an interview.

Dan Clark, who runs the business for GE, will continue in that capacity, reporting to Casper. BMO will add about 600 employees in offices all over the country.

‘THE RIGHT SIZE’

The deal is part of General Electric’s audacious campaign to divest about $200 billion in finance assets as it turns its focus on its traditional manufacturing businesses. Among the divestitures to date was GE’s Chicago-based team that finances acquisitions by private-equity firms, sold in June to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

When GE announced its plans in the spring to unload one of the largest lending platforms in the U.S., BMO mobilized to determine its targets.

β€œWe talked about everything, and as a management team we homed in on this particular asset and said this is the one for us,” Casper said. β€œIt was the right size, the right fit and a leader in its industry.”

The group holds about a 20 percent market share in financing the trucking industry, he said.

Terms weren’t disclosed. The disclosures Toronto-based BMO Financial Group did make indicated that it’s paying a net premium to the assets of about $225 million.

The loans BMO Harris brings on board will add about $8 billion to a U.S. commercial and industrial loan portfolio that now is at $31 billion. About 10 percent of GE’s transportation loans are in Canada.

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