Bloomberg News

TOKYO - GMAC, the finance arm of General Motors Corp., said it wants to buy a major Japanese consumer finance company within a year in a bid to enter one of the world's largest personal loan markets.

The U.S. firm is interested in buying one of the dozen privately held companies that rank among the top 30 firms in Japan's consumer finance industry, said Senri Sasahara, director and chief representative in Japan of GMAC Residential Funding Corp., an arm of General Motors Acceptance Corp.

GMAC is also considering alliances and joint ventures that could help it reach about 200 billion yen, about $1.85 billion, in consumer finance loans within a couple of years, he said.

"This year is the time," Sasahara said. "In three years the opportunity won't be there."

Japanese consumer finance companies, which used to charge as much as 40% interest for unsecured personal loans, are under pressure to cut their rates and are seeing their funding costs rise, and competition from new entrants into the market is forcing consolidation in the industry.

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