General Electric says it has agreed to sell its private equity financing unit to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board — Canada’s largest pension fund — in a deal valued at about $12 billion.

USA Today reported that Tuesday’s (June 9) announcement is the first major finance deal since GE said in April that it will unload most of its banking business in the next two years.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, is subject to regulatory approvals.

GE Capital Sponsor Finance, GE’s private equity unit, has assets of more than $10 billion and offers financing for companies conducting leveraged transactions, growth funding and recapitalization. The unit includes GE Antares, a lender for midsize companies.

In April, GE announced a plan to sell most of GE Capital’s assets to focus on its main businesses — manufacturing equipment and products for the healthcare, aviation, energy and transportation industries.

The strategic shift is aimed at lessening its exposure to the financial sector’s volatility and responding to investors and analysts’ call to streamline the business units. It also unwinds one of the legacies of former CEO Jack Welch, who had bet on business diversification as a growth catalyst.

Speaking of the agreement to sell the unit Tuesday, GE Capital Chairman and CEO Keith Sherin said: “This represents an important milestone as we continue to execute on our strategy to sell most of the assets of GE Capital.”

For the full story click here.