GE Capital rescue for GPA gets backing

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DUBLIN, (Reuter) - Shareholders of GPA, the troubled aircraft leasing group, yesterday overwhelmingly backed a rescue plan by GE Capital Corporation, the financial services wing of General Electric.

The approval came as GE Capital was reported in Sweden to be one of four companies in final negotiations to buy the state-owned Gota Bank.

'We are neither denying nor confirming it,' said Per Ericsson, in charge of Nordic countries at GE International in Stockholm.

Sweden's Bank Support Authority said on Friday it had reduced 13 initial bids for Gota Bank to a shortlist of four parties and said three of them were Swedish.

The possibility of a GE expansion into Nordic banking came as the company was linked to Tiphook, the troubled container and trailer leasing group. GE was tipped as a bidder because of its extensive leasing interests, which now include managing the aircraft leasing business of GPA. Last year GE bought TIP Europe, Tiphook's principal competitor in trailers.

Ordinary and preference shareholders in GPA voted to support the restructuring plan by more than 95 per cent in all classes at an extraordinary meeting at the group's Shannon headquarters.

GE Capital in September agreed to buy 45 aircraft from the troubled leasing firm for dollars 1.35bn. It will also manage the assets of GPA and some affiliates.

Although it will run the business under contract it has refused for the moment to take on any of its liabilities. Instead it has an option until 31 March 1998 to acquire from 65 to 80 per cent of the shares of GPA.