And Then There Were Two — GE Capital No Longer a Nonbank SIFI
GE Capital is no longer a nonbank SIFI. The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) formally announced on June 29, 2016 that it voted unanimously on June 28, 2016 to rescind the designation. In conjunction with the vote, FSOC released a 23-page opinion outlining the basis for its decision. In short, FSOC determined that GE “executed significant divestitures, transformed its funding model, and implemented a corporate reorganization.” It determined that “these and other changes at GE . . . have significantly reduced the potential for [GE’s] material financial distress to threaten U.S. financial stability.”
This decision was not wholly unexpected. For some time, GE has been moving in this direction with this precise outcome as the goal. Two other nonbank SIFIs, AIG and MetLife, have taken steps in a different direction. AIG has elected not to formally challenge its designation as a SIFI and its seeming acquiescence in the SIFI designation has raised the ire of certain activist investors such as Carl Icahn who has been pushing hard for AIG to split up as a company to shed the SIFI designation. MetLife has pursued a path of challenging the designation in court and won. The government is currently appealing that decision. GE’s and MetLife’s successful efforts will no doubt serve as a model for other nonbank SIFIs going forward.