GE Said to Weigh Purchase of Shearson Servicing Unit

General Electric Capital Corp., which plunged into the mortgage servicing business last year, has been seriously studying the servicing unit of Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc. for possible purchase, industry sources said.

"GE has had 20 or 30 people crawling around the place for the past few weeks," said one mortgage banking professional.

While GE was previously known to be at least somewhat interested in the Shearson unit, the extent of its investigation surprised some observers.

Shearson's Irvine, Calif., unit, which services about $18 billion of loans, was put on the block earlier this year as part of a plan to bolster the parent's capital position.

BankAmerica Corp. has also shown interest in the company.

One source familiar with the situation said that "several parties continue to look at" the unit.

A spokeswoman for GE Capital's mortgage unit declined to comment. Last year, GE purchased a $12 billion servicing portfolio and facilities from Travelers Corp., saying it hoped to double its servicing in a few years.

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