Kingfisher's financial arm sold for £149m

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The Independent Online

Kingfisher, the retail group, yesterday cut its debt pile with the sale of its financial services arm, Time Retail Finance, for £149m to GE Capital Bank.

Under the terms of the disposal, GE Capital will provide retail financial services to customers of Kingfisher's Comet and B&Q outlets in the UK.

Kingfisher said that the partnership would allow B&Q and Comet to benefit from increased volumes of credit sales.

Sir Geoff Mulcahy, Kingfisher's chief executive, said: "This is another step taken during a year of delivery that has left us with a strengthened balance sheet and focused on our core retail strengths." The group demerged its Woolworths general retail business last year and sold Superdrug, the pharmacy chain.

Kingfisher said that the proceeds of the sale would be used to cut borrowings. Analysts estimate that net debt increased to £970m at the end of last year.

GE, which already provides retail finance for the department stores Debenhams and House of Fraser, intends to integrate Time Retail with its own consumer finance operation. Both are based in Leeds.

Last year Time Retail Finance made pre-tax profits of £4.9m on sales of £77.4m.