GE Capital Hawaii, which has financed everything from cars to shopping malls, notified state officials yesterday that it plans to shut down most of its operations in Hawaii and Guam and lay off dozens of employees for economic reasons.
The longtime local lender said the first phase of the shutdown begins March 6 and will result in the loss of 39 jobs. On Guam, where the company has five employees, three are expected to lose their jobs.
In GE Capitals filing yesterday with the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, it said its commercial real estate business, and the 11 employees who work there, will be the only ones spared from the shutdown.
While the filing yesterday cited layoffs for only 39 employees, as recently as two years ago the company had more than 150 workers, so cuts in a closure of operations could reach 100.
Officials with GE Capital, one of Hawaiis largest nondepository financial institutions, could not be reached for comment last night.
It was unclear what effect the shut down would have on customers.
Employees were told of the pending layoffs in a company meeting yesterday in Honolulu. Several workers declined to comment last night about the layoffs, saying they had been told not to comment by the company.
The states slow economy over the last decade has created fierce competition for GE Capital from local and Mainland companies. The company tried to diversify its income stream by expanding to Guam in 1995 and to Alaska in 1997.
With the state economy flat through most of the 1990s, GE Capital tried to grow its business through acquisitions, geographic expansion and product diversification. It focused on home loans, equity lines of credit, construction loans and land development financial. It later expanded into commercial lending and leasing as part of its effort to diversify while the states economy continued to languish.
GE Capital started in Hawaii as Amfac Financial. In 1979, it changed its named to GECC Financial as part of the General Electric family of companies.