Air Transport World

GECC's fleet grows, along with its services. (General Electric Credit Corp.)

A bank offers discount brokerage. A travel company owns a Wall Street investment firm. A retailer is selling stock and insurance. And a light bulb manufacturer provides money for business expansion.

The corporations referred to--Bank of America, American Express, Sears and General Electric--still offer their traditional products. But they also compete with one another and many others in the rapidly growing world of financial services.

Some firms concentrate on developing consumer business. Some want to serve the corporate world. Some are tapping both markets. But all have one thing in common. All are vastly increasing the available sources of investment capital.

In so doing, these firms have changed the notion of what a finance company is. Once upon a time, the best depiction of such an entity was a grim-faced, moustachioed, top-hatted gent walking up the garden path to evict a teary eyed couple from their long-time home for nonpayment of the monthly mortgage. Today, powerful corporations armed with vast sums dispensed by sophisticated money managers are described in slick-papered, four-color brochures. They make it seem unpatriotic not to invest.

General Electric Co.'s General Electric Credit Corp. is one of the new breed of financial service companies. Actually, GECC had its origins half a century ago. It was conceived as a way of financing the distribution and sale of GE products. That was long before a sister company even got into commercial engine production. Today, GECC acts as initial banker, middleman or even court of last resort to a range of businesses from drugstores to cable television, real estate development to computers, retailing to aircraft acquisition. Income quadrupled

Last year, Business Week ranked parent GE the 14th largest U.S. corporation in terms of sales. On sales of $26.8 billion, GE earned a net of $2.024 billion. GECC contributed $271 million of that.

In the past 10 years the subsidiary's earned income has almost quadrupled to $1.95 billion in 1983. In no small measure, GECC's growth is attributable to heavy involvement in aircraft financing. …

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