STAMFORD, Conn. - General Electric Capital Corp. said it will enter the French consumer credit market by acquiring Credit de l'Est.

The transaction agreement is subject to regulatory approval.

Credit de l'Est, based in Strasbourg, has 38 branches and the equivalent of $1 billion of assets, primarily through automobile and equipment finance.

Christopher Mackenzie, president of GE Capital Europe, said the acquisition will provide for an expansion into auto financial services, vendor financial services, and commercial equipment finance in France. "We are confident that Credit de l'Est's highly regarded management team will enable us to use Credit de I'Est as a platform for future European growth."

Late last year, GE Capital agreed to acquire a controlling share of Service Bank von 1954 GmbH of Cologne, Germany, part of a retailing group that issues a private-label debit card.

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