GE plots quick launch of online bank in Britain

ENGINEERING and financial services giant General Electric is to open an online retail bank in Britain.

The American group’s GE Capital UK arm won approval for its banking licence from the Financial Services Authority last week and is expected to launch in mid-April.

The new bank will be called GE Capital Direct and aims to bring in billions of pounds of savings as it boosts its £10bn British corporate loan book.

GE Capital UK has sought to benefit from the turmoil in the banking sector by lending more to businesses. In the autumn chief executive John Jenkins said: “Disruption is good for us. It makes businesses think differently and businesses are looking for alternatives.”

The new online venture could be the largest British bank launch since the financial crisis. Other new entrants to the market include high street lender Metro and Aldermore, Britain’s first private equity-backed bank, while Virgin Money has agreed to buy the “good” arm of Northern Rock.

GE, which declined to comment, has around 18,000 staff around Britain spread across healthcare, energy and entertainment as well as financial services.