May 27, 2004
I can't help but be amazed that a multibillion-dollar deal can be a non-newsworthy event. That was the case as the week opened with the announcement that Boeing Capital (BCC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , would be selling its Commercial Finance Services business to General Electric (NYSE: GE ) .
The $2 billion portfolio of 170 customers will become part of GE Commercial Finance unit's $220 billion portfolio, increasing the total value of its loans by just 1%. For GE, the deal amounts to a packet of dry roasted peanuts. But for Boeing, it's more significant.
Essentially, BCC is unloading non-Boeing commercial aircraft-related assets, such as the leases and loans on business aircraft, machine tools, marine vessels, and construction equipment. BCC will maintain a $10 billion portfolio, primarily consisting of financing on Boeing commercial aircraft. And the deal, which is expected to close this quarter, will infuse it with $1.7 billion in cash after taxes and expenses. That is equal to 13% of the parent's expected revenue for the second quarter and potentially more than $2 per share in earnings. BCC says it will reinvest some of the proceeds, pay down debt, and pay a dividend to the parent.
Boeing is giving up a cash stream from interest on loans that amounts to a small fraction of its total revenue. The cash from the sale could provide a healthy boost to a balance sheet with $14 billion in debt and $4 billion in cash. But more important is why does it want to refocus on commercial airline lending?
It's repositioning in anticipation of an increase in sales with the production of its new 7E7 Dreamliner midsize aircraft. And it will need to have more cash on hand to finance those sales and help close deals. It's foretelling of better times ahead for the company.
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Fool contributor Mark Mahorney doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned.