General Electric Capital Corp. is poised to buy the mortgage banking unit of Shearson Lehman Brothers, according to industry sources.

The acquisition of Shearson Lehman Mortgage would make GE one of the nation's five largest mortgage servicers, processing monthly payments on some $56 billion of home loans.

As of March, GE ranked No. 9, according to the newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance. Shearson Mortgage ranked No. 25, servicing $17 billion of home mortgages.

Spokesmen for GE and Shearson declined to comment, but an announcement is believed to be imminent. GE, the sources said, recently topped a handful of other bidders and is now in final talks with Shearson.

The Wall Street giant, which recently agreed to divest its retail brokerage unit, has been trying to sell the mortgage unit for more than two years.

Sources say the effort was intensified this year by Harvey Golub, who in February became chief executive of Shearson's parent, American Express Co.

Terms of the proposed deal could not be learned. But in 1991, Shearson had tentatively agreed to sell the unit to a group of Arabian and U.S. investors for $238 million. That deal ultimately collapsed over terms.

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