S-1 1 d680310ds1.htm FORM S-1 Form S-1
Table of Contents

As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 13, 2014

Registration No. 333 -            

 

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM S-1

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

UNDER

THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933

 

 

SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)

 

 

 

Delaware   6199   51-0483352
(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)   (Primary Standard Industrial Classification Code Number)  

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification Number)

777 Long Ridge Road

Stamford, Connecticut 06902

(203) 585-2400

(Address, Including Zip Code, and Telephone Number, Including Area Code, of Registrant’s Principal Executive Offices)

 

 

Jonathan S. Mothner, Esq.

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Synchrony Financial

777 Long Ridge Road

Stamford, Connecticut 06902

(203) 585-2400

(Name, Address, Including Zip Code, and Telephone Number, Including Area Code, of Agent for Service)

 

 

Copies to:

 

David S. Lefkowitz, Esq.

Corey R. Chivers, Esq.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

767 Fifth Avenue

New York, New York 10153

(212) 310-8000

 

Stuart C. Stock, Esq.

David B.H. Martin, Esq.

Covington & Burling LLP

1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20004

(202) 662-6000

 

Richard J. Sandler, Esq.

John B. Meade, Esq.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

450 Lexington Avenue

New York, New York 10017

(212) 450-4000

 

 

Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: As soon as practicable after the effective date of this Registration Statement.

If any of the securities being registered on this Form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, check the following box.  ¨

If this Form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, please check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  ¨

If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  ¨

If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer   ¨    Accelerated filer   ¨
Non-accelerated filer   x  (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)    Smaller reporting company   ¨

 

 

CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE

 

 

Title of Each Class of

Securities to Be Registered

 

Proposed Maximum

Aggregate Offering

Price(1)(2)

 

Amount of

Registration Fee

Common stock, par value $0.001 per share

  $100,000,000   $12,880

 

 

(1) Estimated solely for purposes of calculating the registration fee in accordance with Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act of 1933. This amount represents the proposed maximum aggregate offering price of the securities registered hereunder to be sold by the Registrant.
(2) Includes shares of common stock which may be sold pursuant to the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares.

 

 

The Registrant hereby amends this Registration Statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the Registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Commission, acting pursuant to Section 8(a), may determine.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. These securities may not be sold until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell nor does it seek an offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.

 

PROSPECTUS (Subject to Completion)

Dated March 13, 2014

             Shares

LOGO

 

 

 

Common Stock

 

 

We are offering              shares of our common stock in this offering. This is our initial public offering, and no public market currently exists for our shares. We anticipate that the initial public offering price of the shares will be between $         and $         per share.

We have granted the underwriters the right to purchase up to an additional              shares of our common stock at the initial public offering price less the underwriting discount.

We will apply to list our shares of common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SYF.”

 

 

Investing in our common stock involves risks. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 19.

 

 

PRICE $         PER SHARE

 

 

 

     Per Share      Total  

Initial public offering price

   $                    $                

Underwriting discounts and commissions(1)

   $         $     

Proceeds to us

   $         $     

 

(1) We have agreed to reimburse the underwriters for certain FINRA-related expenses. See “Underwriters.”

Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any other regulatory body has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the adequacy or accuracy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

The underwriters expect to deliver the shares of our common stock to purchasers on                     , 2014.

 

 

Joint Book-Running Managers

 

Goldman, Sachs & Co.

  J.P. Morgan   Citigroup   Morgan Stanley
Barclays   BofA Merrill Lynch   Credit Suisse   Deutsche Bank Securities

 

 

                    , 2014


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Prospectus Summary

     1   

Risk Factors

     19   

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

     55   

Use of Proceeds

     57   

Dividend Policy

     59   

Capitalization

     60   

Dilution

     61   

Selected Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information

     63   

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

     72   

Corporate Reorganization

     110   

Business

     111   

Regulation

     140   

Management

     151   

Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company

     183   

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management

     199   

Description of Capital Stock

     200   

Description of Certain Indebtedness

     208   

Shares Eligible for Future Sale

     211   

Certain U.S. Federal Income and Estate Tax Considerations for Non-U.S. Holders

     213   

Underwriters

     216   

Legal Matters

     223   

Experts

     223   

Additional Information

     223   

Index to Financial Statements

     F-1   

 

 

Neither we nor any of the underwriters has authorized anyone to provide you with information different from, or in addition to, that contained in this prospectus or any free writing prospectus prepared by or on behalf of us or to which we may have referred you in connection with this offering. We and the underwriters take no responsibility for, and can provide no assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may give you.

Neither we nor any of the underwriters is making an offer to sell or seeking offers to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where or to any person to whom the offer or sale is not permitted. The information in this prospectus is accurate only as of the date on the front cover of this prospectus and the information in any free writing prospectus that we may provide you in connection with this offering is accurate only as of the date of that free writing prospectus. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects may have changed since those dates.

Through and including                     , 2014 (the 25th day after the date of this prospectus), all dealers effecting transactions in these securities, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to a dealer’s obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as an underwriter and with respect to an unsold allotment or subscription.

For investors outside the United States: Neither we nor any of the underwriters has done anything that would permit this offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus or any free writing prospectus we may provide to you in connection with this offering in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. You are required to inform yourselves about and to observe any restrictions relating to this offering and the distribution of this prospectus and any such free writing prospectus outside of the United States.

 

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Certain Defined Terms

Except as the context may otherwise require in this prospectus, references to:

 

    “we,” “us,” “our,” and the “Company” are to SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL and its subsidiaries, which together represent the businesses that historically have conducted GE’s North American retail finance business;

 

    “Synchrony” are to SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL only;

 

    “GE” are to General Electric Company and its subsidiaries;

 

    “GECC” are to General Electric Capital Corporation (a subsidiary of GE) and its subsidiaries;

 

    “GECFI” are to GE Consumer Finance, Inc. (a subsidiary of GECC that currently owns Synchrony) and its subsidiaries; and

 

    the “Bank” are to GE Capital Retail Bank (a subsidiary of Synchrony), which is to be renamed Synchrony Bank in connection with this offering.

“FICO” score means a credit score developed by Fair Isaac & Co., which is widely used as a means of evaluating the likelihood that credit users will pay their obligations. For a description of certain other terms we use, including “active account,” “open account” and “purchase volume,” see the notes to “Prospectus Summary—Summary Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information—Other Financial and Statistical Data.” There is no standard industry definition for many of these terms, and other companies may define them differently than we do.

We provide a range of credit products through programs we have established with a diverse group of national and regional retailers, local merchants, manufacturers, buying groups, industry associations and healthcare service providers, which, in our business and in this prospectus, we refer to as our “partners.” The terms of the programs all require cooperative efforts between us and our partners of varying natures and degrees to establish and operate the programs. Our use of the term “partners” to refer to these entities is not intended to, and does not, describe our legal relationship with them, imply that a legal partnership or other relationship exists between the parties or create any legal partnership or other relationship. The “average length of our relationship” with respect to a specified group of partners or programs is calculated on a loan receivables weighted average basis for those partners or for all partners participating in a program, based on the date each partner relationship or program, as applicable, started and the loan receivables attributable to each partner or all partners participating in a program, as applicable, as of a specified date.

“Synchrony” and its logos and other trademarks referred to in this prospectus, including, Optimizer+plus™, Optimizer+plus Perks™, CareCredit®, Quickscreen® and eQuickscreen™ belong to us. Solely for convenience, we refer to our trademarks in this prospectus without the ™ and ® symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights to our trademarks. Other service marks, trademarks and trade names referred to in this prospectus are the property of their respective owners.

Industry and Market Data

This prospectus contains various historical and projected financial information concerning our industry and market. Some of this information is from industry publications and other third party sources, and other information is from our own data and market research that we commission. All of this information involves a variety of assumptions, limitations and methodologies and is inherently subject to uncertainties, and therefore you are cautioned not to give undue weight to it. Although we believe that those industry publications and other third party sources are reliable, we have not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of any of the data from those publications or sources. Statements in this prospectus that we are the largest provider of private label credit cards in the United States (based on purchase volume and receivables) are based on issue

 

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number 1,019 of “The Nilson Report,” a subscription-based industry newsletter, dated June 2013 (based on 2012 data), and references to “The Nilson Report (December 2012)” are to issue number 1,008 of The Nilson Report, dated December 2012.

Non-GAAP Measures

To assess and internally report the revenue performance of our three sales platforms, we use a measure we refer to as “platform revenue.” Platform revenue is the sum of three line items in our Combined Statements of Earnings prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”): “interest and fees on loans,” plus “other income,” less “retailer share arrangements.” Platform revenue itself is not a measure presented in accordance with GAAP. For a reconciliation of platform revenue to interest and fees on loans, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations—Platform Analysis.” We deduct retailer share arrangements but do not deduct other line item expenses, such as interest expense, provision for loan losses and other expense, because those items are managed for the business as a whole. We believe that platform revenue is a useful measure to investors because it represents management’s view of the net revenue contribution of each of our platforms. This measure should not be considered a substitute for interest and fees on loans or other measures of performance we have reported in accordance with GAAP.

We also present certain capital ratios for the Company calculated on a pro forma basis. As a new savings and loan holding company, the Company historically has not been required by regulators to disclose capital ratios, and therefore these capital ratios are non-GAAP measures. We believe these capital ratios are useful measures to investors because they are widely used by analysts and regulators to assess the capital position of financial services companies, although they may not be comparable to similarly titled measures reported by other companies. The pro forma Basel III Tier 1 common ratio presented herein is a preliminary estimate reflecting management’s interpretation of regulatory requirements, which have not been fully implemented. For a reconciliation of the components of these capital ratios to their nearest comparable GAAP component, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Capital.”

 

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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

This summary highlights information contained elsewhere in this prospectus and may not contain all of the information that may be important to you. You should read this entire prospectus carefully, including the information set forth in “Risk Factors,” our combined financial statements and the related notes thereto, and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this prospectus, before making an investment decision.

Our Company

We are one of the premier consumer financial services companies in the United States. Our roots in consumer finance trace back to 1932, and today we are the largest provider of private label credit cards in the United States based on purchase volume and receivables. We provide a range of credit products through programs we have established with a diverse group of national and regional retailers, local merchants, manufacturers, buying groups, industry associations and healthcare service providers, which we refer to as our “partners.” Through our partners’ 329,000 locations across the United States and Canada, and their websites and mobile applications, we offer their customers a variety of credit products to finance the purchase of goods and services. During 2013, we financed $93.9 billion of sales, and at December 31, 2013, we had $57.3 billion of loan receivables and 62.0 million active accounts. Our active accounts represent a geographically diverse group of both consumers and businesses, with an average FICO score of 714 for consumer active accounts. Our business has been profitable and resilient, including through the recent U.S. financial crisis and ensuing years. For the year ended December 31, 2013, we had net earnings of $2.0 billion, representing a return on assets of 3.5%.

Our business benefits from longstanding and collaborative relationships with our partners, including some of the nation’s leading retailers and manufacturers with well-known consumer brands, such as Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Ethan Allen. We believe our partner-centric business model has been successful because it aligns our interests with those of our partners and provides substantial value to both our partners and our customers. Our partners promote our credit products because they generate increased sales and strengthen customer loyalty. Our customers benefit from instant access to credit, discounts and promotional offers. We differentiate ourselves through deep partner integration and our extensive marketing expertise. We have omni-channel (in-store, online and mobile) technology and marketing capabilities, which allow us to offer and deliver our credit products instantly to customers across multiple channels. The purchase volume from our online and mobile channels increased 62% from 2010 to 2013.

We offer our credit products primarily through our wholly-owned subsidiary, GE Capital Retail Bank, which is to be renamed Synchrony Bank in connection with this offering (the “Bank”). Through the Bank, we offer a range of deposit products insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), including certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”), money market accounts and savings accounts, under our Optimizer+Plus brand, directly to retail and commercial customers. We also take deposits at the Bank through third-party securities brokerage firms that offer our FDIC-insured deposit products to their customers. We are expanding our online direct banking operations to increase our deposit base as a source of stable and diversified low cost funding for our credit activities. We had $25.7 billion in deposits at December 31, 2013.

 

 

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Our Sales Platforms

We offer our credit products through three sales platforms: Retail Card, Payment Solutions and CareCredit. Set forth below is a summary of certain information relating to our Retail Card, Payment Solutions and CareCredit platforms at or for the year ended December 31, 2013:

 

($ in millions, except for average loan receivable balance)    Retail Card     Payment Solutions     CareCredit  

Partners

     24        61,000        149,000   

Partner locations

     34,000        118,000        177,000   

Purchase volume

   $ 75,739      $ 11,360      $ 6,759   

Active accounts (in millions)

     50.8        6.8        4.4   

Average loan receivable balance

   $ 782      $ 1,654      $ 1,470   

Average FICO for consumer active accounts

     718        709        684   

Period end loan receivables

   $ 39,834      $ 10,893      $ 6,527   

Interest and fees on loans

   $ 8,317      $ 1,506      $ 1,472   

Other income

     407        36        45   

Retailer share arrangements(1)

     (2,320     (36     (6
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Platform revenue(2)

   $ 6,404      $ 1,506      $ 1,511   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Most of our Retail Card program agreements contain retailer share arrangements that provide for payments to our partner if the economic performance of the program exceeds a contractually defined threshold.
(2) Platform revenue is a non-GAAP measure. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations—Platform Analysis.”

 

    Retail Card. Retail Card is a leading provider of private label credit cards, and also provides Dual Cards and small and medium-sized business credit products. We offer these products through programs with 24 national and regional retailers that collectively have 34,000 retail locations. The average length of our relationship with our Retail Card partners is 15 years. Our partners are diverse by industry and include Amazon, Belk, Brooks Brothers, Chevron, Dillard’s, Gap, JCPenney, Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, T.J.Maxx and Wal-Mart. Our Retail Card programs typically are exclusive with respect to the credit products we offer at that partner. Private label credit cards are partner-branded credit cards that are used for the purchase of goods and services from the partner. Our patented Dual Cards are credit cards that function as a private label credit card when used to purchase goods and services from our partners and as a general purpose credit card when used elsewhere. Substantially all of the credit extended in this platform is on standard (i.e., non-promotional) terms.

 

    Payment Solutions. Payment Solutions is a leading provider of promotional financing for major consumer purchases, offering primarily private label credit cards and installment loans. We offer these products through 252 programs with national and regional retailers, manufacturers, buying groups and industry associations, and a total of 61,000 participating partners that collectively have 118,000 retail locations. Our partners operate in seven product markets: automotive (tires and repair), home furnishing/flooring, electronics/appliances, jewelry and other luxury items, power (motorcycles, ATVs and lawn and garden), home specialty (windows, doors, roofing, siding, HVAC and repair) and other retail. We have programs with a diverse group of retailers, manufacturers, buying groups and industry associations, such as Ashley HomeStores, Discount Tire, h.h.gregg, the North American Home Furnishings Association and P.C. Richard & Son. Substantially all of the credit extended in this platform is promotional financing for major purchases. We offer three types of promotional financing: deferred interest, no interest and reduced interest. In almost all cases, our partners compensate us for all or part of the cost of providing this promotional financing.

 

 

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    CareCredit. CareCredit is a leading provider of promotional financing to consumers for elective healthcare procedures or services, such as dental, veterinary, cosmetic, vision and audiology. We offer our products through a network we have developed of 149,000 healthcare partners that collectively have 177,000 locations. The vast majority of our partners are individual and small groups of independent healthcare providers, and the remainder are national and regional healthcare providers and manufacturers. Our national and regional healthcare and manufacturer partners include LCA-Vision, Heartland Dental, Starkey Laboratories and Veterinary Centers of America (VCA Antech). We also have relationships with more than 100 professional and other associations, including the American Dental Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, various state dental and veterinary associations, manufacturers and buying groups, which endorse and promote (in some cases for compensation) our credit products to their members. We offer customers a CareCredit-branded private label credit card that may be used across our network of CareCredit providers. Substantially all of the credit extended in this platform is promotional financing, and in almost all cases, our partners compensate us for all or part of the cost of providing this promotional financing.

Our Value Proposition

We offer strong value propositions to both our partners and our customers.

Our Value Proposition

 

LOGO

Value to Our Partners

Our consumer finance programs deliver the following benefits to our partners:

 

    Increased sales. Our programs drive increased sales for our partners by providing instant credit with an attractive value proposition (which may include discounts, promotional financing and customized loyalty rewards). Based on our research and experience in our Retail Card and Payment Solutions platforms, average sales per customer in these platforms are higher for customers who use our cards compared to consumers who do not. In Payment Solutions, the availability of promotional financing is important to the consumer’s decision to make purchases of “big-ticket” items and a driver of retailer selection. In CareCredit, the availability of credit can also have a substantial influence over consumer spending with a significant number of consumers indicating in our research that they would postpone or forego all or a portion of their desired healthcare procedures or services if credit was not available through their healthcare providers.

 

 

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    Strengthened customer loyalty. Our programs benefit our partners through strengthened customer loyalty. Our Retail Card customers have had their cards an average of 7.7 years at December 31, 2013. We believe customer loyalty drives repeat business and additional sales. In the year ended December 31, 2013, our 50.8 million active Retail Card accounts made an average of more than 12 purchases per account. Our CareCredit customers can use their card at any provider within our provider network, which we believe is an important source of new business to our providers, and 69% of CareCredit transactions in 2013 were from existing customers reusing their card at one or more providers.

 

    Enhanced marketing. We have developed significant marketing expertise that we share with our partners through dedicated on-site teams, a national field sales force and experts who reside in our marketing centers of excellence. We believe this expertise is of substantial value to our partners in increasing sales and profitability. Our omni-channel capabilities allow us to market our credit products wherever our partners offer their products. Our customer relationship management (“CRM”) and data analytics capabilities allow us to track customer responsiveness to different marketing strategies, which helps us target marketing messages and promotional offers to our partners’ customers. In Payment Solutions, our dedicated industry-focused sales and marketing teams bring substantial retailer marketing expertise to our smaller retailer and merchant partners. These partners benefit from our research on how to increase store traffic with various promotional offerings. We also provide them with website and e-commerce capabilities that many could not afford to develop on their own.

 

    Additional economic benefits. Our programs provide economic benefits to our partners in addition to increasing sales. Our Retail Card partners typically benefit from retailer share arrangements that provide for payments to them once the economic performance of the program exceeds a contractually-defined threshold. These shared economics enhance our partners’ engagement with us and provide an incentive for partners to support our programs. In addition, for most of our partners, our credit programs reduce costs by eliminating the interchange fees for in-store purchases that would otherwise be paid when general purpose credit cards or debit cards are used. Our programs also allow our partners to avoid the risks and administrative costs associated with carrying an accounts receivable balance for their customers, and this is particularly attractive to many of our CareCredit partners.

Value to Our Customers

Our consumer finance programs deliver the following benefits to our customers:

 

    Instant access to credit. We offer qualified customers instant access to credit at the point of sale and across multiple channels. Annual applications for our credit products increased from 37.7 million applications in 2011 to 47.0 million in 2013. Our Retail Card programs provide financing for frequent purchases with attractive program benefits, including, in the case of our Dual Card, the convenience of a general purpose credit card. Payment Solutions and CareCredit offer promotional financing that enables qualified customers to make major purchases, including, in the case of CareCredit, elective healthcare procedures or services that typically are not covered by insurance.

 

    Attractive discounts, promotional terms and loyalty rewards. We believe our programs provide substantial value to our customers through attractive discounts, promotional terms and loyalty rewards. Retail Card customers typically benefit from first purchase discounts (e.g., 10% or more off the purchase price when a new account is opened) and discounts or loyalty rewards when their card is used to make subsequent purchases from our partners. Our Retail Card customers typically earn rewards based on the amount of their purchases from our partners at a rate which is generally higher than the reward rate on general purpose credit cards. Our Payment Solutions and CareCredit customers typically benefit from promotional financing such as interest-free periods on purchases. These types of promotions typically are not available to consumers when they use a general purpose credit card outside of introductory offer periods.

 

 

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    Ability to obtain separate financing for major purchases. We believe many consumers prefer to obtain separate financing for major purchases or category expenditures rather than accessing available borrowing capacity under their general purpose credit cards or using cash. We believe our customers also value the ability to compartmentalize, budget and track their spending and borrowing through separate financing for a major purchase.

Our Industry

We believe our business is well positioned to benefit from the following favorable industry trends:

 

    Improvements in consumer spending and credit utilization. Consumer spending has increased as U.S. economic conditions and consumer confidence continue to recover from the recent financial crisis. The U.S. consumer payments industry, which consists of credit, debit, cash, check and electronic payments, is projected to grow by 25% from 2011 to 2016 (from $8.3 trillion in 2011 to $10.4 trillion in 2016) according to The Nilson Report (December 2012). According to that report, credit card payments are expected to account for the majority of the growth of the U.S. consumer payments industry. Credit card payments accounted for $2.1 trillion or 25.6% of U.S. consumer payments volume in 2011 and are expected to grow to $3.5 trillion or 34.1% of U.S. consumer payments volume in 2016. Credit card spending is growing as a percentage of total consumer spending, driven in part by the growth of online and mobile purchases.

 

    Improvements in U.S. household finances. U.S. household finances have recovered substantially since the financial crisis. According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve Board”), the average U.S. household’s ratio of debt payments to disposable personal income (“debt service ratio”) is better than pre-crisis levels, having improved to 9.9% for the three months ended September 30, 2013 from 13.1% for the three months ended September 30, 2007. According to the Federal Reserve Board, aggregate U.S. household net worth also has increased, from $68.0 trillion at December 31, 2007 to $77.3 trillion at September 30, 2013.

 

    Growth of direct banking and deposit balances. According to a 2012 American Bankers Association survey, the percentage of customers who prefer to do their banking via direct channels (internet, mail, phone and mobile) increased from 53% to 62% between 2010 and 2012, while those who prefer branch banking declined from 25% to 18% over the same period. This preference for direct banking has been evidenced by robust growth in direct deposits.

Competitive Strengths

Our business has a number of competitive strengths, including the following:

 

    Large, diversified and well established consumer finance franchise. Our business is large and diversified with 62.0 million active accounts and a partner network with 329,000 locations across the United States and in Canada. At December 31, 2013, we had $57.3 billion in total loan receivables, and we are the largest provider of private label credit cards in the United States based on purchase volume and receivables according to The Nilson Report (June 2013). We have built large scale operations that support each of our sales platforms, and we believe our extensive partner network, with its broad geographic reach and diversity by industry, provides us with a distribution capability that is difficult to replicate. We believe the scale of our business and resulting operating efficiencies also contribute significantly to our success and profitability. In addition, we believe our partner-centric model, including our distribution capability, could lend itself to geographic expansion.

 

   

Partner-centric model with long-standing and stable relationships. Our business is based on a partner-centric, business-to-business model. Our ability to establish and maintain deep, collaborative relationships with our partners is a core skill that we have developed through decades of experience.

 

 

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At December 31, 2013, the average length of our relationship for our 40 largest programs across all platforms (measured by platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013), which accounted in aggregate for 74.9% of our 2013 platform revenue, is 14 years. From these same 40 programs, 55.1% of our 2013 platform revenue is generated under programs with current contractual terms that continue through at least January 1, 2017. A diverse and growing group of more than 200,000 partners accounted for the remaining 25.1% of our 2013 platform revenue.

 

    Deeply integrated technology across multiple channels. Our proprietary technology is deeply integrated with our partners’ systems and processes, which enables us to provide customized credit products to their customers at the point of sale across multiple channels. Our technologies enable customers to apply for credit at the point of sale in-store, online or on a mobile device and, if approved, purchase instantly. Our online and mobile technologies are capable of being seamlessly integrated into our partners’ systems to enable our customers to check their available credit line, manage their account, access our eChat online customer service and participate in many of our partners’ loyalty rewards programs online and using mobile devices. In addition, in CareCredit, we have developed what we believe is one of the largest healthcare provider locators of its kind, helping to connect customers to our 177,000 healthcare provider locations. This online locator received an average of 560,000 hits per month in 2013, helping to drive incremental business for our provider partners. We believe that our continued investment in technology and mobile offerings will help us deepen our relationships with our existing partners, as well as provide a competitive advantage when seeking to win new business.

 

    Strong operating performance. Over the three years ended December 31, 2013, we have grown our purchase volume and loan receivables at 9.8% and 8.2% compound annual growth rates, respectively. For 2011, 2012 and 2013, our net earnings were $1.9 billion, $2.1 billion and $2.0 billion, respectively, and our return on assets was 4.1%, 4.2% and 3.5%, respectively. We were profitable throughout the recent U.S. financial crisis. We believe our ability to maintain profitability through various economic cycles is attributable to our rigorous underwriting process, strong pricing discipline, low cost to acquire new accounts, operational expertise and retailer share arrangements with our largest partners.

 

    Strong balance sheet and capital base. We have a strong capital base and a diversified and stable funding profile with access to multiple sources of funding, including a growing deposit platform at the Bank, securitized financings under well-established programs, a new GECC term loan facility and a new bank term loan facility. In addition, following this offering, we intend to access the public unsecured debt markets as a source of funding. At December 31, 2013, pro forma for the Transactions (as defined under “—Summary Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information”), we would have had a fully phased-in Basel III Tier 1 common ratio of         %, and our business would have been funded with $25.7 billion of deposits at the Bank, $15.4 billion of securitized financings, $         billion of transitional funding from the new GECC term loan facility, $         billion from the new bank term loan facility and $         billion of additional unsecured debt from a planned debt offering. At December 31, 2013, on a pro forma basis, we would have had $         billion of cash and short-term liquid investments (or         % of total assets) and approximately $         billion of undrawn committed capacity under securitization facilities. We also had, at the same date and on the same basis, more than $25.0 billion of unencumbered assets in the Bank available to be used to generate additional liquidity through secured borrowings or asset sales.

 

   

Experienced and effective risk management. We have an experienced risk management team and an enterprise risk management infrastructure that we believe enable us to effectively manage our risk. Our enterprise risk management function is designed to identify, measure, monitor and control risk, including credit, market, liquidity, strategic and operational risks. Our focus on the credit process is evidenced by the success of our business through multiple economic cycles. We control the credit criteria for all of our

 

 

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programs and issue credit only to consumers who qualify under those credit criteria. Our systems are integrated with our partners’ systems, and therefore we can use our proprietary credit approval processes to make credit decisions instantly at the point of sale and across all application channels in accordance with our underwriting guidelines and risk appetite. Our risk management strategies are customized by industry and partner, and we believe our proprietary decisioning systems and customized credit scores provide significant incremental predictive capabilities over standard credit bureau-based scores alone. In addition, we have a robust compliance program, and we have invested, and expect to continue to invest, in enhancing our regulatory compliance capabilities.

 

    High quality and diverse asset base. The quality of our loan receivables portfolio is high. Our consumer active accounts had an average FICO score of 714, and our total loan receivables had a weighted average consumer FICO score of 696, in each case at December 31, 2013. In addition, 71.3% of our portfolio’s loan receivables are from consumers with a FICO score of greater than 660 at December 31, 2013. Our over-30 day delinquency rate at December 31, 2013 is below 2007 pre-financial crisis levels. We have a seasoned customer base with 32.7% of our loan receivables at December 31, 2013 associated with accounts that have been open for more than six years. Our portfolio is also diversified by geography, with receivables balances broadly reflecting the U.S. population distribution.

 

    Experienced management team and business built on GE culture. Our senior management team, including key members who helped us successfully navigate the financial crisis, will continue to lead our company following this offering. We have operated as a largely standalone business within GECC, with our own sales, marketing, risk management, operations, collections, customer service and compliance functions. Our business has been built on GE’s culture and heritage, with a strong emphasis on our partners and customers, a rigorous use of metrics and analytics, a disciplined approach to risk management and compliance and a focus on continuous improvement and strong execution.

Our Business and Growth Strategy

We intend to grow our business and increase our profitability by building on our financial and operating strengths and capitalizing on projected favorable industry trends, as well as by pursuing a number of important growth strategies for our business, including the following:

Increase customer penetration at our existing partners. We believe there is a significant opportunity to grow our business by increasing the usage of our cards in each of our sales platforms. In Retail Card, based on sales data provided by our partners, we have increased penetration of our partners’ aggregate sales in each of the last three years. For the year ended December 31, 2013, penetration of our Retail Card partners’ sales ranged from 1% to 49%, and the aggregate sales of all Retail Card partners were $555.6 billion, which we believe represents a significant opportunity for potential growth. We believe there is also a significant market opportunity for us to increase our penetration in Payment Solutions and CareCredit.

Attract new partners. We seek to attract new partners by both launching new programs and acquiring existing programs from our competitors. In Retail Card, which is typically characterized by longer-term, exclusive relationships, we added four new Retail Card partners from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2013, which accounted for $2.3 billion of receivables at December 31, 2013. In Payment Solutions, where a significant portion of our programs include independent dealers and merchants that enter into separate arrangements with us, we established 37 new Payment Solutions programs from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2013, which accounted for $1.2 billion of loan receivables at December 31, 2013, and increased our total partners from 57,000 at December 31, 2010 to 61,000 at December 31, 2013. In CareCredit, where we attract new healthcare provider partners largely by leveraging our endorsements from professional associations and healthcare consultants, we increased the number of partners with which we had agreements from 122,000 at December 31, 2010 to 149,000 at December 31, 2013. We believe there is a significant opportunity to attract new partners in each of our platforms, including by adding additional merchants, dealers and healthcare providers under existing programs.

 

 

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Our strategies to both increase penetration among our current partners and attract new partners include the following elements:

 

    Leverage technology to support our partners. Our business model is focused on supporting our partners by offering credit wherever they offer their products and services (i.e., in-store, online and on mobile devices). We intend to continue to make significant investments in online and mobile technologies, which we believe will lead to new accounts, increased sales and deeper relationships with our existing partners and will give us an advantage when competing for new partners. We intend to continue to roll out the capability for consumers to apply for our products via their mobile devices, receive an instant credit decision and obtain immediate access to credit, and to deliver targeted rewards and promotions to our customers via their mobile devices for immediate use.

 

    Capitalize on our strong data, analytics and customer relationship management capabilities. We believe that our ongoing efforts to expand our data and analytics capabilities help differentiate us from our competitors. We have access to a vast amount of data (such as our customers’ purchase patterns and payment histories) from our 108.9 million open accounts at December 31, 2013 and the hundreds of millions of transactions our customers make each year. Consistent with applicable privacy rules and regulations, we are developing new tools to assess this data to develop and deliver valuable insights and actionable analysis that can be used to improve the effectiveness of marketing strategies leading to incremental growth for both our partners and our business. Our recently enhanced CRM platform will utilize these insights and analysis to drive more relevant and timely offers to our customers via their preferred channels of communication. We believe the combination of our analytics expertise and extensive data access will drive greater partner engagement and increased sales, strengthen customer loyalty, and provide us a competitive advantage.

 

    Launch our integrated multi-tender loyalty programs. We are leveraging our extensive data analytics, loyalty experience and broad retail presence to launch multi-tender loyalty programs that enable customers to earn rewards from a partner, regardless of how they pay for their purchases (e.g., cash, private label or general purpose credit cards). By expanding our loyalty program capabilities beyond credit payments we can provide deeper insights to our partners about their customers, including spending patterns and shopping behaviors. Multi-tender loyalty programs will also provide us with access to non-cardholders, giving us the opportunity to grow our customer base by marketing our credit products to them and delivering a more compelling value proposition.

 

    Increase focus on small and mid-sized businesses. We currently offer private label credit cards and Dual Cards for small to mid-sized commercial customers that are similar to our consumer offerings. We are increasing our focus on marketing our commercial pay-in-full accounts receivable product to a wide range of business customers and are rolling out an improved customer experience for this product with enhanced functionality. Our loan receivables from business customers were $1.3 billion at December 31, 2013, and we believe our strategic focus on business customers will enable us to continue to attract new business customers and increase the diversity of our loan receivables.

 

   

Expand our direct banking activities. In January 2013, we acquired the deposit business of MetLife Bank, N.A. (“MetLife”), which is a direct banking platform that at the time of the acquisition had $6.0 billion in U.S. direct deposits and $0.4 billion in brokered deposits. Our U.S. direct deposits grew from $0.9 billion at December 31, 2012 to $10.9 billion at December 31, 2013 (including the MetLife acquisition). The acquisition of this banking platform is a key part of our strategy to increase our deposit base as a source of stable and diversified low cost funding. The platform is highly scalable, allowing us to expand without the overhead expenses of a traditional “brick and mortar” branch network. We believe we are well-positioned to benefit from the consumer-driven shift from branch banking to direct banking. According to a 2012 American Bankers Association survey, the percentage of customers who prefer to do their banking via direct channels (i.e., internet, mail, phone and mobile) increased from 53% to 62% between 2010 and 2012, while those who prefer branch banking declined from 25% to 18% over the same

 

 

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period. To attract new deposits and retain existing ones, we are enhancing our loyalty program and expanding mobile banking offerings. We also intend to introduce new deposit products and enhancements to our existing products. These new and enhanced products include the introduction of checking accounts, overdraft protection lines of credit, a bill payment account feature and debit cards, as well as enhanced small business deposit accounts and expanded affinity offers.

Formation and Regulation of Synchrony

Synchrony is a holding company for the legal entities that historically conducted GE’s North American retail finance business. Synchrony (previously named GE Capital Retail Finance Corporation) was incorporated in Delaware on September 12, 2003, but prior to April 1, 2013 conducted no business. During the period from April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013, as part of a regulatory restructuring, substantially all of the assets and operations of GE’s North American retail finance business, including the Bank, were transferred to Synchrony. The remaining assets and operations of that business have been or will be transferred to Synchrony prior to the completion of this offering.

As a savings and loan holding company, Synchrony is subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the Federal Reserve Board. In addition, as a large provider of consumer financial services, Synchrony is subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”).

The Bank is a federally chartered savings association and therefore is subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of the U.S. Treasury (the “OCC”), which is its primary regulator, and by the CFPB. In addition, the Bank, as an insured depository institution, is supervised by the FDIC.

For a discussion of the regulation of our company and the Bank, see “Regulation.”

GE Ownership and Our Separation from GE

GE currently owns 100% of the common stock of GECC, GECC currently owns 100% of the common stock of GECFI and GECFI currently owns 100% of the common stock of Synchrony.

On November 15, 2013, GE announced that it planned a staged exit from our business, consistent with its strategy of reducing GECC’s percentage of GE’s total earnings and increasing GECC’s focus on its commercial lending and leasing businesses. This offering is the first step in that exit. After the completion of this offering, GE will beneficially own     % of our outstanding common stock (or     % if the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us is exercised in full).

GE has indicated that after this offering it currently is targeting to complete its exit from our business in 2015 through a split-off transaction, by making a tax-free distribution of all of its remaining shares of our stock to electing GE stockholders in exchange for shares of GE’s common stock (the “Split-off”). GE may also decide to exit our business by selling or otherwise distributing or disposing of all or a portion of its shares of our stock. The Split-off or other transaction or transactions through which GE disposes of all of its remaining shares of our company are referred to as the “Separation.” The Separation would be subject to various conditions, including receipt of any necessary bank regulatory and other approvals, the existence of satisfactory market conditions, and, in the case of the Split-off, GE’s receipt of a private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) as to certain issues relating to, and an opinion of counsel confirming, the tax-free treatment of the transaction to GE and its stockholders. The conditions to any transaction involved in the Separation may not be satisfied in 2015 or thereafter, or GE may decide for any reason not to consummate the Separation in 2015 or thereafter.

The final step in GE’s exit from our business will be complete only when the Federal Reserve Board determines that GE no longer controls us and releases GE from savings and loan holding company registration

 

 

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(the “GE SLHC Deregistration”). Prior to the GE SLHC Deregistration, we will be required to file an application with, and receive approval from, the Federal Reserve Board to continue to be a savings and loan holding company and to retain ownership of the Bank following the GE SLHC Deregistration. The GE SLHC Deregistration may or may not coincide with the Separation, depending on whether GE is deemed to continue to control us for regulatory purposes as a result of ongoing transitional, contractual or other relationships. See “Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Separation from GE.”

Debt Financings

Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into a term loan facility (the “New Bank Term Loan Facility”) with third party lenders that will provide $       billion principal amount of unsecured term loans maturing in 2019. Prior to the completion of this offering, we will also enter into a term loan facility (the “New GECC Term Loan Facility”) with GECC that will provide $       billion principal amount of unsecured term loans maturing in 2019. We expect to borrow the full $       billion available under the New Bank Term Loan Facility and the New GECC Term Loan Facility concurrent with the closing of this offering. See “Use of Proceeds.”

Prior to the completion of this offering, we expect to enter into agreements providing us with an aggregate of approximately $       billion of undrawn committed capacity from private lenders under two of our existing securitization programs.

We also currently plan to issue approximately $       billion of senior unsecured debt securities in one or more series shortly after the completion of this offering (the “Planned Debt Offering”). We cannot assure you that the Planned Debt Offering will be completed or, if completed, on what terms it will be completed.

For a discussion of these financings, see “Description of Certain Indebtedness—New Bank Term Loan Facility,” “—New GECC Term Loan Facility,” “—Securitized Financings” and “—New Senior Notes.”

Risks Relating to Our Company

As part of your evaluation of our company, you should consider the risks associated with our business, regulation of our business, the Separation and this offering. These risks include:

 

   

Risks relating to our business, including: (i) impact of macroeconomic conditions; (ii) retaining existing partners and attracting new partners, concentration of our platform revenue in a small number of Retail Card partners, promotion and support of our products by our partners, and financial performance of our partners; (iii) our need for additional financing, higher borrowing costs and adverse financial market conditions impacting our funding and liquidity, and reduction in our credit ratings; (iv) our ability to securitize our loans, occurrence of an early amortization of our securitization facilities, loss of the right to service or subservice our securitized loans, and lower payment rates on our securitized loans; (v) our reliance on dividends, distributions and other payments from the Bank; (vi) our ability to grow our deposits in the future; (vii) changes in market interest rates; (viii) effectiveness of our risk management processes and procedures, reliance on models which may be inaccurate or misinterpreted, our ability to manage our credit risk, the sufficiency of our allowance for loan losses, and accuracy of the assumptions or estimates used in preparing our financial statements; (ix) our ability to offset increases in our costs in retailer share arrangements; (x) competition in the consumer finance industry; (xi) our concentration in the U.S. consumer credit market; (xii) our ability to successfully develop and commercialize new or enhanced products and services; (xiii) our ability to realize the value of strategic investments; (xiv) reductions in interchange fees; (xv) fraudulent activity; (xvi) cyber-attacks or other security breaches; (xvii) failure of third parties to provide various services that are important to our operations; (xviii) disruptions in the operations of our computer systems and data centers; (xix) international risks and compliance and regulatory risks and costs associated with international operations; (xx) catastrophic events; (xxi) alleged infringement of intellectual property rights of others and our ability to protect our

 

 

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intellectual property; (xxii) litigation and regulatory actions; (xxiii) damage to our reputation; (xxiv) our ability to attract, retain and motivate key officers and employees; (xxv) tax legislation initiatives or challenges to our tax positions; and (xxvi) state sales tax rules and regulations;

 

    Risks relating to regulation, including: (i) significant and extensive regulation, supervision and examination of, and enforcement relating to, our business by governmental authorities, impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) and, the impact of the CFPB’s regulation of our business; (ii) changes to our methods of offering our CareCredit products; (iii) impact of capital adequacy rules; (iv) restrictions that limit our ability to pay dividends and repurchase our capital stock and that limit the Bank’s ability to pay dividends; (v) regulations relating to privacy, information security and data protection; (vi) use of third-party vendors and ongoing third-party business relationships; and (vii) as long as we are controlled by GECC for bank regulatory purposes, regulations pertaining to GECC;

 

    Risks relating to the Separation, including: (i) GE not completing the Separation as planned or at all, and GE’s inability to obtain the GE SLHC Deregistration; (ii) Federal Reserve Board approval required for us to continue to be a savings and loan holding company, and Federal Reserve Board agreement required for us to be treated as a financial holding company after the GE SLHC Deregistration; (iii) need to significantly expand many aspects of our infrastructure; (iv) loss of association with GE’s strong brand and reputation; (v) limited right to use the GE brand name and logo and need to establish a new brand; (vi) terms of our arrangements with GE may be more favorable than we will be able to obtain from unaffiliated third parties, GE has significant control over us and reliance on exemptions from the corporate governance requirements of the NYSE available for a “controlled company”; (vii) our historical combined and pro forma financial results may not be a reliable indicator of what we would have achieved or will achieve as a standalone company; (viii) obligations associated with being a public company; (ix) GE could engage in businesses that compete with us, and conflicts of interest may arise between us and GE; and (x) failure caused by us of GE’s distribution of our common stock to its stockholders in exchange for its common stock to qualify for tax-free treatment, which may result in significant tax liabilities to GE for which we may be required to indemnify GE; and

 

    Risks relating to this offering, including: (i) future sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock; (ii) no prior public market for our common stock; (iii) volatility of the price of our common stock; (iv) our dividend policy may change at any time; (v) applicable laws and regulations, and provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws may discourage takeover attempts and business combinations; and (vi) our common stock is and will be subordinate to all of our existing and future indebtedness and any preferred stock.

For a discussion of these and other risks, see “Risk Factors.”

Additional Information

Our corporate headquarters and principal executive offices are located at 777 Long Ridge Road, Stamford, Connecticut 06902. Our telephone number at that address is (203) 585-2400. Our internet address is www.synchronyfinancial.com. Information on, or accessible through, our website is not part of this prospectus.

 

 

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The Offering

 

Issuer

SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL

 

Common stock offered by us

             shares of common stock.

 

Option to purchase additional shares

             shares of common stock.

 

Common stock to be outstanding immediately after this offering

             shares of common stock.

 

Common stock listing

We will apply to list our common stock on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the trading symbol “SYF.”

 

Use of proceeds

Assuming an initial public offering price of $             per share, which is the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, we estimate that the net proceeds to us from the sale of our common stock in this offering will be $             (or $         if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us), after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, together with borrowings under the New Bank Term Loan Facility and the New GECC Term Loan Facility, to repay $             billion of the related party debt owed to GECC and its affiliates outstanding on the closing date of this offering ($     billion at December 31, 2013), to increase our capital, to invest in liquid assets to increase the size of our liquidity portfolio and for such additional uses as we may determine in the future. See “Use of Proceeds” and “Description of Certain Indebtedness.”

 

Voting rights

One vote per share for all matters on which stockholders are entitled to vote, except that, until the earlier to occur of: (i) the time immediately prior to the Split-off and (ii) the GE SLHC Deregistration, no stockholder or group (other than GE or its affiliates and certain other exempted persons) shall have the right to vote more than 4.99% of our voting stock outstanding following this offering.

 

Dividend policy

Following the offering, our board of directors intends to consider our policy regarding the payment and amount of dividends. The declaration and amount of any future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on many factors, including the financial condition, earnings, capital and liquidity requirements of us and the Bank, regulatory restrictions, corporate law restrictions and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant. See “Risk Factors—Risks Relating to This Offering—We may change our dividend policy at any time” and “Dividend Policy.”

 

 

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Risk factors

See the section entitled “Risk Factors” beginning on page 19 for a discussion of some of the factors you should consider before investing in our common stock.

 

Debt financings

Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into the New Bank Term Loan Facility with third party lenders that will provide $       billion principal amount of unsecured term loans maturing in 2019. Prior to the completion of this offering, we will also enter into the New GECC Term Loan Facility with GECC that will provide $       billion principal amount of unsecured term loans maturing in 2019.

 

  We also currently intend to issue approximately $       billion of senior unsecured debt securities in the Planned Debt Offering shortly after the completion of this offering.

 

  Prior to the completion of this offering, we expect to enter into agreements providing us with an aggregate of approximately $       billion of undrawn committed capacity from private lenders under two of our existing securitization programs.

 

  For a discussion of these financings, see “Description of Certain Indebtedness—New Bank Term Loan Facility,” “—New GECC Term Loan Facility,” “—New Senior Notes” and “—Securitized Financings.”

Unless otherwise indicated, all information in this prospectus, including information regarding the number of shares of our common stock outstanding:

 

    is based on an assumption of              shares of common stock outstanding at December 31, 2013, which reflects the consummation of a stock split expected to occur immediately prior to this offering pursuant to which              shares of common stock will be issued to the holder of common stock for each share held;

 

    assumes an initial public offering price of $             per share (the midpoint of the price range set forth on the front cover of this prospectus);

 

    assumes the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us has not been exercised; and

 

    does not include the              shares of common stock underlying unvested restricted stock units and stock options issued to certain employees pursuant to “founders’ grants” under the Synchrony 2014 Long-Term Incentive Plan or the remaining              shares of common stock reserved for issuance under the Synchrony 2014 Long-Term Incentive Plan, as described under “Management—Compensation Plans Following This Offering—Synchrony 2014 Long-Term Incentive Plan.”

 

 

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Summary Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information

The following table sets forth summary historical combined and unaudited pro forma financial information. You should read this information in conjunction with the information under “Selected Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our combined financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.

Synchrony is a holding company for the legal entities that historically conducted GE’s North American retail finance business. Synchrony was incorporated in Delaware on September 12, 2003, but prior to April 1, 2013, conducted no business. During the period from April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013, as part of a regulatory restructuring, substantially all of the assets and operations of GE’s North American retail finance business, including the Bank, were transferred to Synchrony. The remaining assets and operations of that business have been or will be transferred to Synchrony prior to the completion of this offering.

We have prepared our historical combined financial statements as if Synchrony had conducted GE’s North American retail finance business throughout all relevant periods. Our historical combined financial information and statements include the assets, liabilities and operations of GE’s North American retail finance business.

The unaudited pro forma information set forth below reflects our historical combined financial information, as adjusted to give effect to the following transactions (the “Transactions”) as if each had occurred as of January 1, 2013, in the case of statements of earnings information, and December 31, 2013, in the case of statements of financial position information:

 

    issuance of          million shares of our common stock at an estimated offering price of $         per share (the midpoint of the price range set forth on the front cover of this prospectus);

 

    repayment of $             billion of the Outstanding Related Party Debt (as defined under “Use of Proceeds”);

 

    entering into of, and costs associated with, the New Bank Term Loan Facility and the New GECC Term Loan Facility;

 

    completion of, and costs associated with, the Planned Debt Offering;

 

    investment in liquid assets to further increase the size of our liquidity portfolio consistent with our liquidity and funding policies; and

 

    issuance of a founders’ grant of restricted stock units and stock options to certain employees under the Synchrony 2014 Long-Term Incentive Plan.

The unaudited pro forma information below is based upon available information and assumptions that we believe are reasonable. The unaudited pro forma financial information is for illustrative and informational purposes only and is not intended to represent what our financial condition or results of operations would have been had the Transactions occurred on the dates indicated. The unaudited pro forma information also should not be considered representative of our future financial condition or results of operations.

In addition to the pro forma adjustments to our historical combined financial statements, various other factors will have an effect on our financial condition and results of operations after the completion of this offering, including those discussed under “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” For a discussion of the pro forma adjustments, see “Selected Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information.”

 

 

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Condensed Combined Statements of Earnings Information

 

     Pro Forma      Historical  
     Year Ended
December 31,
     Years Ended December 31,  
($ in millions, except share and per share data)    2013      2013     2012     2011  

Interest income

   $                    $ 11,313      $ 10,309      $ 9,141   

Interest expense

        742        745        932   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income

        10,571        9,564        8,209   

Retailer share arrangements

        (2,362     (1,975     (1,430
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements

        8,209        7,589        6,779   

Provision for loan losses

        3,072        2,565        2,258   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements and provision for loan losses

        5,137        5,024        4,521   

Other income

        488        473        498   

Other expense

        2,483        2,121        2,009   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Earnings before provision for income taxes

        3,142        3,376        3,010   

Provision for income taxes

        (1,163     (1,257     (1,120
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net earnings

   $         $ 1,979      $ 2,119      $ 1,890   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average shares outstanding (in thousands)

         

Basic

         

Diluted

         

Earnings per share

         

Basic

         

Diluted

         

 

 

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Condensed Combined Statements of Financial Position Information

 

     Pro Forma      Historical  
     At
December 31,
     At
December 31,
 
($ in millions)    2013      2013     2012  

Assets:

       

Cash and equivalents

   $                    $ 2,319      $ 1,334   

Investment securities

        236        193   

Loan receivables

        57,254        52,313   

Allowance for loan losses

        (2,892     (2,274

Goodwill

        949        936   

Intangible assets, net

        300        255   

Other assets

        919        705   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total assets

   $         $ 59,085      $ 53,462   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Liabilities and Equity:

       

Total deposits

        25,719        18,804   

Total borrowings

        24,321        27,815   

Accrued expenses and other liabilities

        3,085        2,261   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities

        53,125        48,880   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total equity

        5,960        4,582   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities and equity

   $         $ 59,085      $ 53,462   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

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Other Financial and Statistical Data

 

     Pro Forma(1)     Historical  
     Year Ended
December 31,
    Years Ended December 31,  
($ in millions, except per account data)    2013     2013     2012     2011  

Financial Position Data (Average):

  

Loan receivables

   $        $ 52,407      $ 47,549      $ 44,131   

Total assets

   $        $ 56,184      $ 49,905      $ 46,218   

Deposits

   $        $ 22,911      $ 17,514      $ 15,442   

Borrowings

   $        $ 25,209      $ 25,304      $ 24,687   

Total equity

   $        $ 5,121      $ 4,764      $ 4,009   

Selected Performance Metrics:

        

Purchase volume(2)

   $ 93,858      $ 93,858      $ 85,901      $ 77,883   

Average active accounts (in thousands)(3)

     56,253        56,253        53,021        51,313   

Average purchase volume per active account

   $ 1,668      $ 1,668      $ 1,620      $ 1,518   

Average loan receivables balance per active account

   $ 932      $ 932      $ 897      $ 860   

Net interest margin(4)

            18.8     19.7     18.4

Net charge-offs

   $ 2,454      $ 2,454      $ 2,343      $ 2,560   

Net charge-offs as a % of average loan receivables

     4.7     4.7     4.9     5.8

Allowance coverage ratio(5)

     5.1     5.1     4.3     4.3

Return on assets(6)

            3.5     4.2     4.1

Return on equity(7)

            38.6     44.5     47.1

Equity to assets(8)

            9.1     9.5     8.7

Other expense as a % of average loan receivables

            4.7     4.5     4.6

Efficiency ratio(9)

            28.6     26.3     27.6

Effective income tax rate

            37.0     37.2     37.2

Capital Ratios for the Bank(10):

        

Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio

              16.0     13.8     13.3

Total risk-based capital ratio

              17.3     15.1     14.5

Tier 1 leverage ratio

              14.9     17.2     16.0

Capital Ratios for the Company(11):

        

Tier 1 common ratio

            —          —          —     

Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio

            —          —          —     

Total risk-based capital ratio

            —          —          —     

Tier 1 leverage ratio

            —          —          —     

Selected Period End Data:

        

Total loan receivables

   $ 57,254      $ 57,254      $ 52,313      $ 47,741   

Allowance for loan losses

   $ 2,892      $ 2,892      $ 2,274      $ 2,052   

30+ days past due as a % of loan receivables

     4.3     4.3     4.6     4.9

90+ days past due as a % of loan receivables

     2.0     2.0     2.0     2.2

Total active accounts (in thousands)(3)

     61,957        61,957        57,099        56,605   

Other Information:

        

Full time employees

     9,333        9,333        8,447        8,203   

Interest and fees on loans

   $ 11,295      $ 11,295      $ 10,300      $ 9,134   

Other income

     488        488        473        498   

Retailer share arrangements

     (2,362     (2,362     (1,975     (1,430
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Platform revenue(12)

   $ 9,421      $ 9,421      $ 8,798      $ 8,202   

 

 

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(1) The unaudited pro forma financial information for Financial Position Data (Average) and Selected Performance Metrics give effect to the Transactions as if they had occurred as of January 1, 2013 for amounts calculated using average financial position data.
(2) Purchase volume, or net credit sales, represents the aggregate amount of charges incurred on credit cards or other credit product accounts less returns during the period.
(3) Active accounts represent credit card or installment loan accounts on which there has been a purchase, payment or outstanding balance in the current month. Open accounts represent credit card or installment loan accounts that are not closed, blocked or more than 60 days delinquent.
(4) Net interest margin represents net interest income divided by average interest earning assets.
(5) Allowance coverage ratio represents allowance for loan losses divided by total end-of-period loan receivables.
(6) Return on assets represents net earnings as a percentage of average total assets.
(7) Return on equity represents net earnings as a percentage of average total equity.
(8) Equity to assets represents average equity as a percentage of average total assets.
(9) Efficiency ratio represents (i) other expense, divided by (ii) net interest income, after retailer share arrangements, plus other income.
(10) Represent Basel I capital ratios calculated for the Bank.
(11) Represent Basel I capital ratios calculated for the Company on a pro forma basis. At December 31, 2013, pro forma for the Transactions, the Company had a fully phased-in Basel III Tier 1 common ratio of         %. The Company’s pro forma capital ratios are non-GAAP measures. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Capital.”
(12) Platform revenue is a non-GAAP measure. The table sets forth each component of our platform revenue for the periods presented. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations—Platform Analysis.”

 

 

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RISK FACTORS

You should carefully consider the following risks before investing in our common stock. These risks could materially affect our business, results of operations or financial condition and cause the trading price of our common stock to decline. You could lose part or all of your investment.

Risks Relating to Our Businesses

Macroeconomic conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and stock price.

Key macroeconomic conditions historically have affected our business, results of operations and financial condition and are likely to affect them in the future. Consumer confidence, unemployment and housing indicators are among the factors that often impact consumer spending behavior. Poor economic conditions reduce the usage of our credit cards and other financing products and the average purchase amount of transactions on our credit cards and through our other products, which, in each case, reduces our interest and fee income. We rely primarily on interest and fee income to generate our net earnings. Our interest and fee income was $11.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013 and $10.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012. Poor economic conditions also adversely affect the ability and willingness of customers to pay amounts owed to us, increasing delinquencies, bankruptcies, charge-offs and allowances for loan losses, and decreasing recoveries. For example, our over-30 day delinquency rate was 8.2% on December 31, 2009 during the financial crisis, compared to 4.3% on December 31, 2013, and our full-year net charge-off rate was 11.3% for the year ended December 31, 2009, compared to 4.7% for the year ended December 31, 2013. We believe the delinquency rate in our portfolio is at historically low levels and charge-off rates in our portfolio are back to pre-recession levels, and they both may increase and are likely to increase materially if economic conditions deteriorate.

While certain economic conditions in the United States have shown signs of improvement, economic growth has been slow and uneven as consumers continue to be affected by high unemployment rates, slowly recovering housing values and continuing concerns about the level of U.S. government debt and fiscal actions that may be taken to address this. A prolonged period of slow economic growth or a significant deterioration in economic conditions would likely affect consumer spending levels and the ability and willingness of customers to pay amounts owed to us, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Macroeconomic conditions may also cause net earnings to fluctuate and diverge from expectations of securities analysts and investors, who may have differing assumptions regarding the impact of these conditions on our business, and this may adversely impact the trading price of our common stock.

Our results of operations and growth depend on our ability to retain existing partners and attract new partners.

Substantially all of our revenue is generated from the credit products we provide to customers of our partners pursuant to program agreements we enter into with our partners. As a result, our results of operations and growth depend on our ability to retain existing partners and attract new partners. Historically, there has been turnover in our partners, and we expect this will continue in the future. For example, based on discussions to date with two of our 24 current Retail Card partners, we do not expect their program agreements to be extended beyond their contractual expiration dates in 2014. These two program agreements represented, in the aggregate, 0.6% of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013 and 0.5% of our total loan receivables at December 31, 2013. In addition, based on discussions to date with another of our 24 current Retail Partners,

PayPal, we expect to extend our program agreement for two years beyond its current contractual expiration date in 2014. Although we do not expect the program agreement to be extended beyond the two year extension, we expect that we will agree to a fixed formula for PayPal to purchase the portfolio after the extension expires. The

 

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extension is also expected to eliminate certain exclusivity provisions that exist in the current program agreement which we expect will result in lower platform revenue and loan receivables from our PayPal program during the remaining term of the agreement. The PayPal program agreement represented 3.1% of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013 and 2.6% of our total loan receivables at December 31, 2013.

Program agreements with our Retail Card partners and national and regional retailer and manufacturer Payment Solutions partners typically are for multi-year terms. These program agreements generally permit us and our partner to terminate the agreement prior to its scheduled termination date for various reasons, including, in some cases, if we fail to meet certain service levels, if we change certain key cardholder terms or, in some cases, certain of our credit criteria, if we fail to achieve certain targets with respect to approvals of new customers as a result of the credit criteria we use, or if we elect not to increase the program size when the outstanding loan receivables under the program reach certain thresholds. Certain of these program agreements are also subject to early termination by a party if the other party has a material adverse change in its financial condition. Programs with manufacturers, buying groups and industry associations generally are made available to Payment Solutions partners such as individual retail outlets, dealers and merchants under dealer agreements, which typically may be terminated at will by the other party on short notice to us (e.g., 15 days).

There is significant competition for our existing partners, and our failure to retain our existing larger partner relationships upon the expiration or our earlier loss of a relationship upon the exercise of a partner’s early termination rights, or the termination of a substantial number of smaller partner relationships, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition to the extent not offset by the addition of new partners of similar size and profitability. The competition for new partners is also significant, and our failure to attract new partners could adversely affect our ability to grow.

A significant percentage of our platform revenue comes from relationships with a small number of Retail Card partners, and the loss of any of these Retail Card partners could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our ten largest partner relationships are with Retail Card partners and accounted for an aggregate of 58.9% of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013. Our five largest programs (Gap, JCPenney, Lowe’s, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart) accounted in aggregate for 47.9% of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013. Sam’s Club is a subsidiary of Wal-Mart that is a separate contracting entity with its own program agreement with us. Our programs with JCPenney and Wal-Mart each accounted for more than 10% of our total platform revenue over the same period. We expect to have significant concentration in our largest relationships for the foreseeable future. Although we have multi-year program agreements with each of our ten largest partners, their current agreements expire at various times and the agreement with one of these partners, which represented $1.3 billion, or 2.3%, of our total loan receivables for the year ended December 31, 2013, is scheduled to expire before the end of 2014 and is subject to a competitive bidding process. We cannot be sure whether this program agreement will be renewed or what the terms of any renewal will be. In addition, as discussed in the preceding Risk Factor, based on discussions to date with two of our 24 current Retail Card partners, we do not expect their program agreements to be extended beyond their contractual expiration dates in 2014, and based on discussions to date with another of our 24 current Retail Partners, PayPal, we expect to extend our program agreement for two years beyond its current contractual expiration date in 2014, but we do not expect the program agreement to extend beyond the two-year extension.

The program agreements generally permit us or our partner to terminate the agreement prior to its scheduled termination date under various circumstances as described in the preceding risk factor. Some of our program agreements also provide that, upon expiration or termination, our partner may purchase or designate a third party to purchase the accounts and loans generated with respect to its program and all related customer data. The loss of any of our largest partners or a material reduction in the revenues we receive from their customers could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

 

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Our results depend, to a significant extent, on the active and effective promotion and support of our products by our partners.

Our partners generally accept most major credit cards and various other forms of payment, and therefore our success depends on their active and effective promotion of our products to their customers. We depend on our partners to integrate the use of our credit products into their store culture by training their sales associates about our products, having their sales associates encourage their customers to apply for, and use, our products and otherwise effectively marketing our products. In addition, some Payment Solutions programs and most CareCredit provider relationships are not exclusive to us, and therefore a partner may choose to promote a competitor’s financing over ours, depending upon cost, availability or attractiveness to consumers or other factors. Partners may also implement changes in their systems and technologies that may disrupt the integration between their systems and technologies and ours, which could disrupt the use of our products. The failure by our partners to effectively promote and support our products or changes they make in their business models that negatively impact card usage could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. In addition, if our partners engage in improper business practices, do not adhere to the terms of our program agreements or other contractual arrangements, or otherwise diminish the value of our brand, we may suffer reputational damage and customers may be less likely to use our products, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Our results are impacted, to a significant extent, by the financial performance of our partners.

Our ability to generate new loans and the interest income and fees and other income associated with them is dependent upon sales of merchandise and services by our partners. The retail and healthcare industries in which our partners operate are intensely competitive. Our partners compete with retailers and department stores in their own geographic areas, as well as catalog and internet sales businesses. Our partners in the healthcare industry compete with other healthcare providers. Our partners’ sales may decrease or may not increase as we anticipate for various reasons, some of which are in the partners’ control and some of which are not. For example, partner sales may be adversely affected by macroeconomic conditions having a national, regional or more local effect on consumer spending, business conditions affecting a particular partner or industry, or catastrophes affecting broad or more discrete geographic areas. If our partners’ sales decline for any reason, it generally results in lower credit sales, and therefore lower loan volume and associated interest income and fees and other income for us from their customers. In addition, if a partner closes some or all of its stores or becomes subject to a voluntary or involuntary bankruptcy proceeding (or if there is a perception that it may become subject to a bankruptcy proceeding), its customers who have used our financing products may have less incentive to pay their outstanding balances to us, which could result in higher charge-off rates than anticipated and our costs for servicing its customers’ accounts may increase. This risk is particularly acute with respect to our largest partners that account for a significant amount of our platform revenue. See “—A significant percentage of our platform revenue comes from relationships with a small number of Retail Card partners, and the loss of any of these Retail Card partners could adversely affect our business and results of operations.” Moreover, if the financial condition of a partner deteriorates significantly or a partner becomes subject to a bankruptcy proceeding, we may not be able to recover for customer returns, customer payments made in partner stores or other amounts due to us from the partner. A decrease in sales by our partners for any reason or a bankruptcy proceeding involving any of them could have a material adverse impact on our business and results of operations.

We will need additional financing, and our borrowing costs are expected to be higher following the completion of this offering; adverse financial market conditions or our inability to effectively manage our funding and liquidity risk could have a material adverse effect on our funding, liquidity and ability to meet our obligations.

We need to effectively manage our funding and liquidity in order to meet our cash requirements such as day to day operating expenses, extensions of credit to our customers, payments of principal and interest on our borrowings and payments on our other obligations. Historically, our primary sources of funding and liquidity have been, and following this offering are expected to be, collections from our customers, deposits, funds from

 

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securitized financings and proceeds from unsecured borrowings. Historically, our unsecured borrowings have come from GECC and we believe our affiliation with GE has made it easier and less expensive for us to obtain some of our funding from third parties. Following completion of this offering, we do not expect to receive funding from GECC (other than transitional financing from GECC under the New GECC Term Loan Facility) and expect our borrowing costs from third parties will be higher than our historical costs from GECC. In addition, following completion of this offering, it may be more difficult for us to securitize our loans because our credit rating from the rating agencies will be lower than GECC’s current credit rating, which may cause investors, and the credit rating agencies, to view us as a weaker sponsor. To compensate, our future issuances of asset-backed securities may need to provide for a higher interest rate or provide additional credit enhancements and, even then, the credit ratings on our asset-backed securities may be lower than they have been historically. These factors may increase the costs of securitizing our loans relative to our historical costs.

If we do not have sufficient liquidity, we may not be able to meet our obligations, particularly during a liquidity stress event. If we maintain or are required to maintain too much liquidity, it could be costly and reduce our financial flexibility.

We will need additional financing in the future to refinance any existing debt and finance growth of our business. The availability of additional financing will depend on a variety of factors such as financial market conditions generally, including the availability of credit to the financial services industry, consumers’ willingness to place money on deposit in the Bank, our performance and credit ratings and the performance of our securitized portfolios. Disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the capital, credit or deposit markets, such as the uncertainty and volatility experienced in the capital and credit markets during the financial crisis and more recently arising from the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and concerning the level of U.S. government debt and fiscal measures that may be taken over the longer term to address these matters, may limit our ability to obtain additional financing or refinance maturing liabilities on desired terms (including funding costs) in a timely manner or at all. It may also be more difficult or costly for us to obtain funds following the Separation. As a result, we may be forced to delay obtaining funding or be forced to issue or raise funding on undesirable terms, which could significantly reduce our financial flexibility and cause us to contract or not grow our business, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial conditions.

In addition, prior to the completion of this offering, we expect to enter into agreements providing us with an aggregate of approximately $         billion of undrawn committed capacity from private lenders under two of our existing securitization programs. Regulatory reforms have recently been adopted in the United States and internationally that are intended to address certain issues that affected banks in the recent financial crisis. These reforms, generally referred to as “Basel III,” subject banks to more stringent capital, liquidity and leverage requirements. To the extent that the Basel III requirements result in increased costs to the banks providing this undrawn committed capacity under our securitization programs, these costs are likely to be passed on to us. In addition, in response to Basel III, some banks in the market have added provisions to their credit agreements permitting them to delay disbursement of funding requests for 30 days or more. If our bank lenders demand these delayed funding provisions and/or higher pricing for committing undrawn capacity to us, our cost of funding and access to liquidity could be adversely affected.

While financial market conditions have stabilized and, in many cases, improved since the financial crisis, there can be no assurance that significant disruptions, uncertainties and volatility will not occur in the future. If we are unable to continue to finance our business, access capital markets and attract deposits on favorable terms and in a timely manner, or if we experience an increase in our borrowing costs or otherwise fail to manage our liquidity effectively, our results of operations and financial condition may be materially adversely affected.

A reduction in our credit ratings could materially increase the cost of our funding from, and restrict our access to, the capital markets.

We expect our senior unsecured debt to be rated by one or more rating agencies prior to the completion of this offering. In addition, certain of the asset-backed securities issued by our publicly registered securitization

 

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trust are also rated by Fitch Ratings, Inc. (“Fitch”), Standard & Poor’s (“S&P”) and/or Moody’s Investor Services, Inc. (“Moody’s”). The ratings for our unsecured debt are based on a number of factors, including our financial strength, as well as factors that may not be within our control, such as macroeconomic conditions and the rating agencies’ perception of the industries in which we operate and the products we offer. The ratings of our asset-backed securities are, and will continue to be, based on a number of factors, including the quality of the underlying loans and the credit enhancement structure with respect to each series of asset-backed securities, as well as the credit rating of GECC as the servicer of our publicly registered securitization trust and our credit rating as sponsor. These ratings also reflect the various methodologies and assumptions used by the rating agencies, which are subject to change and could adversely affect our ratings. The rating agencies regularly evaluate our credit ratings and those of GECC, as well as the credit ratings of our asset-backed securities. We expect GECC will resign and assign its servicing obligations for our publicly registered securitization trust to us, and we intend to amend the program documents for this trust to enable that assignment. We expect the GECC resignation and assignment will occur on the earlier of: (i) the date all asset-backed securities outstanding at the effective time of the amendment have been redeemed or paid in full (which is expected to occur no later than 2019) and (ii) when the holders of such securities have consented to an assignment of such servicing obligations to us (the “Expected GECC Servicer Assignment Date”). There can be no assurance that we will be able to maintain our unsecured debt or asset-backed securities credit ratings or that any of our credit ratings will not be lowered or withdrawn in the future, including as GE decreases its ownership in us or when GECC is no longer the servicer. We also cannot be sure that GECC’s credit ratings will not be lowered or what impact any such action would have on our credit ratings as well as those of our asset-backed securities. A downgrade in our unsecured debt or asset-backed securities credit ratings (or investor concerns that a downgrade may occur) could materially increase the cost of our funding from, and restrict our access to, the capital markets.

Neither we nor GE have any obligation to replace or supplement the credit enhancement or to take any other action to maintain any ratings of any asset-backed securities. If the ratings on our asset-backed securities are reduced, put on negative watch or withdrawn as a result of the Separation, the GE SLHC Deregistration or otherwise, it may have an adverse effect on the liquidity or the market price of our asset-backed securities and on the cost of or our ability to continue using securitized financings to the extent anticipated.

Our inability to securitize our loans would have a material adverse effect on our business, liquidity, cost of funds and financial condition.

We use the securitization of loans, which involves the transfer of loans to a trust and the issuance by the trust of asset-backed securities to third-party investors, as a significant source of funding. Our average level of

securitized financings from third parties was $16.2 billion and $15.2 billion for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. For a discussion of our securitization activities, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Funding Sources—Securitized Financings,” “Description of Certain Indebtedness—Securitized Financings” and Note 6. Variable Interest Entities to our combined financial statements.

Although the securitization market for credit cards has been re-established since the financial crisis that began in 2008, there can be no assurance that the market will not experience future disruptions. The extent to which we will securitize our loans in the future will depend in part upon the conditions in the securities markets in general and the credit card asset-backed securities market in particular, the overall credit quality of our loans and the conformity of the loans and our securitization program to rating agency requirements, the costs of securitizing our loans, and the legal, regulatory, accounting and tax requirements governing securitization transactions. In the event we are unable to refinance existing asset-backed securities from our publicly registered securitization trust with new securities from the same trust, there are structural and regulatory constraints on our ability to refinance these asset-backed securities with Bank deposits or other funding at the Bank, and therefore we would be required to rely on sources outside of the Bank. A prolonged inability to securitize our loans on favorable terms, or at all, or to refinance our asset-backed securities would have a material adverse effect on our business, liquidity, cost of funds and financial condition.

 

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The occurrence of an early amortization of our securitization facilities would have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and cost of funds.

Our liquidity would be materially adversely affected by the occurrence of events resulting in the early amortization of our existing securitized financings. For a description of these early amortization events, see “Description of Certain Indebtedness—Securitized Financings.” During an early amortization period, principal collections from the loans in our asset-backed securitization trusts would be applied to repay principal of the asset-backed securities rather than being available on a revolving basis to fund purchases of newly originated loans. This would negatively impact our liquidity, including our ability to originate new loans under existing accounts, and require us to rely on alternative funding sources, which might increase our funding costs or might not be available when needed.

Our loss of the right to service or subservice our securitized loans would have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and cost of funds.

GECC currently acts as servicer with respect to our publicly registered securitization trust and its related series of asset-backed securities, and the Bank acts as servicer with respect to our other two securitization trusts. If the Bank or GECC, as applicable, defaults in its servicing obligations, an early amortization event could occur with respect to the relevant asset-backed securities and/or the Bank or GECC, as applicable, could be replaced as servicer. Servicer defaults include, for example, the failure of the servicer to make any payment, transfer or deposit in accordance with the securitization documents, a breach of representations, warranties or agreements made by the servicer under the securitization documents, the delegation of the servicer’s duties contrary to the securitization documents and the occurrence of certain insolvency events with respect to the servicer. Such an amortization event would have the adverse consequences discussed in the immediately preceding risk factor.

We expect GECC will resign and assign its servicing obligations for our publicly registered securitization trust to us on the Expected GECC Servicer Assignment Date and until that time, our ability to service the public securitization trust’s assets pursuant to the sub-servicing arrangement with GECC will be dependent on GECC not being terminated as servicer for a servicer default or resigning in accordance with the requirements specified in the trust’s program documents, as well as us not being terminated for a default under our sub-servicing arrangements with GECC. If GECC defaults or resigns (or if we default under our sub-servicing arrangement), a third party could be appointed servicer with respect to our publicly registered securitization trust, particularly if neither we nor the Bank have the required ratings to serve as successor servicer. Similarly, if we default in our servicing obligations with respect to either of our other two securitization trusts, a third party could be appointed as servicer of the related trust. If a third-party servicer is appointed, there is no assurance that the third-party will engage us as sub servicer, in which event we would no longer be able to control the manner in which the related trust’s assets are serviced, and the failure of a third party to appropriately service such assets could lead to an early amortization event in the affected securitization trust, which would have the adverse consequences discussed in the immediately preceding risk factor.

Lower payment rates on our securitized loans could materially adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition.

Certain collections from our securitized loans come back to us through our subsidiaries, and we use these collections to fund our purchase of newly originated loans to collateralize our securitized financings. If payment rates on our securitized loans are lower than they have historically been, fewer collections will be remitted to us on an ongoing basis. Further, certain series of our asset-backed securities include a requirement that we accumulate principal collections in a restricted account for a specified number of months prior to the applicable security’s maturity date. We are required under the program documents to lengthen this accumulation period to the extent we expect the payment rates to be low enough that the current length of the accumulation period is inadequate to fully fund the restricted account by the applicable security’s maturity date. Lower payment rates, and in particular, payment rates that are low enough that we are required to lengthen our accumulation periods, could materially adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition.

 

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We are a holding company and will rely significantly on dividends, distributions and other payments from the Bank.

As a holding company, we will rely significantly on dividends, distributions and other payments from the Bank to fund any dividends to our stockholders and repurchases of our stock, as well as to satisfy our debt and other obligations. The ability of the Bank to make dividends and other distributions and payments to us is subject to regulation by the OCC and the Federal Reserve Board. Limitations on the amounts we receive from the Bank could impact our liquidity. See “—Risks Relating to Regulation—We and the Bank are subject to restrictions that limit our ability to pay dividends and repurchase our capital stock.”

Our inability to grow our deposits in the future could materially adversely affect our liquidity and ability to grow our business.

We obtain deposits directly from retail and commercial customers or through brokerage firms that offer our deposit products to their customers. At December 31, 2013, we had $10.9 billion in direct deposits (which includes deposits from banks and financial institutions and deposits related to prepaid cards) and $14.8 billion in deposits originated through brokerage firms (including network deposit sweeps procured through a program arranger who channels brokerage account deposits to us). A key part of our liquidity plan and funding strategy is to expand our direct deposits, and we intend to continue to rely on brokered deposits as a source of funding.

The deposit business is highly competitive, with intense competition in attracting and retaining deposits. We compete on the basis of the rates we pay on deposits, features and benefits of our products, the quality of our customer service and the competitiveness of our digital banking capabilities. Our ability to originate and maintain retail deposits is also highly dependent on the strength of the Bank and the perceptions of consumers and others of our business practices and our financial health. Adverse perceptions regarding our reputation could lead to difficulties in attracting and retaining deposits accounts. Negative public opinion could result from actual or alleged conduct in a number of areas, including lending practices, regulatory compliance, inadequate protection of customer information or sales and marketing, and from actions taken by regulators or others in response to such conduct. In addition, our ability to originate and maintain deposits could be adversely affected by the loss of our association with GE’s brand and reputation following the completion of this offering.

The demand for the deposit products we offer may also be reduced due to a variety of factors, such as demographic patterns, changes in customer preferences, reductions in consumers’ disposable income, regulatory actions that decrease customer access to particular products or the availability of competing products. Competition from other financial services firms and others that use deposit funding products may affect deposit renewal rates, costs or availability. Changes we make to the rates offered on our deposit products may affect our profitability and liquidity.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Act (the “FDIA”) prohibits an insured bank from accepting brokered deposits or offering interest rates on any deposits significantly higher than the prevailing rate in the bank’s normal market area or nationally (depending upon where the deposits are solicited), unless it is “well capitalized,” or it is “adequately capitalized” and receives a waiver from the FDIC. A bank that is “adequately capitalized” and accepts brokered deposits under a waiver from the FDIC may not pay an interest rate on any deposit in excess of 75 basis points over certain prevailing market rates. There are no such restrictions under the FDIA on a bank that is “well capitalized” and at December 31, 2013, the Bank met or exceeded all applicable requirements to be deemed “well capitalized” for purposes of the FDIA. However, there can be no assurance that the Bank will continue to meet those requirements. The Bank’s inability to accept brokered deposits for any reason (including regulatory limitations on the amount of brokered deposits as a percentage of total assets) in the future could materially adversely impact our funding costs and liquidity. Any limitation on the interest rates the Bank can pay on deposits could competitively disadvantage us in attracting and retaining deposits and have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

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Changes in market interest rates could have a material adverse effect on our net earnings, funding and liquidity.

Changes in market interest rates cause our net interest income and our interest expense to increase or decrease, as certain of our assets and liabilities carry interest rates that fluctuate with market benchmarks. At December 31, 2013, 56.8% of our loans bore a fixed interest rate to the customer and we generally fund these assets with fixed rate certificates of deposit, securitized financing and unsecured debt. At December 31, 2013, 43.2% of our loans bore a floating interest rate to the customer, and we generally fund these assets with floating rate deposits, asset-backed securities and unsecured debt. The interest rate benchmark for our floating rate assets is the prime rate, and the interest rate benchmark for our floating rate liabilities is generally either the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) or the federal funds rate. The prime rate and LIBOR or the federal funds rate could reset at different times or could diverge, leading to mismatches in the interest rates on our floating rate assets and floating rate liabilities. To the extent we are unable to effectively match the interest rates on our assets and liabilities (including, in the future, potentially through the use of derivatives), our net earnings could be materially adversely affected.

Competitive factors may limit, and future regulatory reform may limit or restrict, our ability to raise interest rates, fixed or floating, on our loans. In addition, some of our program agreements limit the rate of interest we can charge to customers under those agreements. If interest rates were to rise materially over a sustained period of time, and we are unable to sufficiently raise our interest rates in a timely manner, our net interest margin could be adversely impacted, which could have a material adverse effect on our net earnings.

Interest rates may also adversely impact our customers’ spending levels and ability and willingness to pay amounts owed to us. Our floating rate credit products bear interest rates that fluctuate with the prime rate. Higher interest rates often lead to higher payment obligations by customers to us and other lenders under mortgage, credit card and other consumer loans, which may reduce our customers’ ability to remain current on their obligations to us and therefore lead to increased delinquencies, bankruptcies, charge-offs and allowances for loan losses, and decreasing recoveries, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our net earnings.

Changes in interest rates and competitor responses to these changes may also impact customer decisions to maintain deposits with us, and reductions in deposits could materially adversely affect our funding costs and liquidity.

We assess our interest rate risk by estimating the effect on our net earnings of various scenarios that differ based on assumptions about the direction and the magnitude of interest rate changes. We take risk mitigation actions based on those assessments. Changes in interest rates could materially reduce our net interest income and our net earnings, and could also increase our funding costs and reduce our liquidity, especially if actual conditions turn out to be materially different from those we assumed. For a discussion of interest rate risk sensitivities, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.”

Our risk management processes and procedures may not be effective in mitigating our risks.

Our risk management processes and procedures seek to appropriately balance risk and return and mitigate risks. We have established processes and procedures intended to identify, measure, monitor and control the types of risk to which we are subject, including credit risk, market risk, liquidity risk, strategic risk and operational risk. Credit risk is the risk of loss that arises when an obligor fails to meet the terms of an obligation. We are exposed to both consumer credit risk, from our customer loans, and institutional credit risk, principally from our partners. Market risk is the risk of loss due to changes in external market factors such as interest rates. Liquidity risk is the risk that financial condition or overall safety and soundness are adversely affected by an inability, or perceived inability, to meet obligations and support business growth. Strategic risk is the risk from changes in the business environment, improper implementation of decisions or inadequate responsiveness to changes in the business environment. Operational risk is the risk of loss arising from inadequate or failed processes, people or systems, external events (i.e., natural disasters) or compliance, reputational or legal matters and includes those risks as they relate directly to our company as well as to third parties with whom we contract or otherwise do business. See “Business—Credit Risk Management” and “Business—Risk Management” for additional information on the types of risks affecting our business.

 

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We seek to monitor and control our risk exposure through a framework that includes our risk appetite statement, enterprise risk assessment process, risk policies, procedures and controls, reporting requirements, credit risk culture and governance structure. Management of our risks in some cases depends upon the use of analytical and/or forecasting models. If the models that we use to manage these risks are ineffective at predicting future losses or are otherwise inadequate, we may incur unexpected losses or otherwise be adversely affected. In addition, the information we use in managing our credit and other risk may be inaccurate or incomplete as a result of error or fraud, both of which may be difficult to detect and avoid. There may also be risks that exist, or that develop in the future, that we have not appropriately anticipated, identified or mitigated including when processes are changed or new products and services are introduced. If our risk management framework does not effectively identify and control our risks, we could suffer unexpected losses or be adversely affected, and that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We rely extensively on models in managing many aspects of our business, and if they are not accurate or are misinterpreted, it could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

We rely extensively on models in managing many aspects of our business, including liquidity and capital planning (including stress testing), customer selection, credit and other risk management, pricing, reserving and collections management. The models may prove in practice to be less predictive than we expect for a variety of reasons, including as a result of errors in constructing, interpreting or using the models or the use of inaccurate assumptions (including failures to update assumptions appropriately or in a timely manner). Our assumptions may be inaccurate for many reasons including that they often involve matters that are inherently difficult to predict and beyond our control (e.g., macroeconomic conditions and their impact on partner and customer behaviors) and they often involve complex interactions between a number of dependent and independent variables, factors and other assumptions. The errors or inaccuracies in our models may be material, and could lead us to make wrong or sub-optimal decisions in managing our business, and this could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our business depends on our ability to successfully manage our credit risk, and failing to do so may result in high charge-off rates.

Our success depends on our ability to manage our credit risk while attracting new customers with profitable usage patterns. We select our customers, manage their accounts and establish terms and credit limits using proprietary scoring models and other analytical techniques that are designed to set terms and credit limits to appropriately compensate us for the credit risk we accept, while encouraging customers to use their available credit. The models and approaches we use to manage our credit risk may not accurately predict future charge-offs for various reasons discussed in the preceding risk factor.

Our ability to manage credit risk and avoid high charge-off rates also may be adversely affected by economic conditions that may be difficult to predict, such as the recent financial crisis. Although delinquencies and charge-offs continued to decline through 2013, they both may increase in the future and are likely to increase materially if economic conditions deteriorate. We remain subject to conditions in the consumer credit environment. There can be no assurance that our credit underwriting and risk management strategies will enable us to avoid high charge-off levels, or that our allowance for loan losses will be sufficient to cover actual losses.

A customer’s ability to repay us can be negatively impacted by increases in their payment obligations to other lenders under mortgage, credit card and other loans (including student loans). These changes can result from increases in base lending rates or structured increases in payment obligations, and could reduce the ability of our customers to meet their payment obligations to other lenders and to us. In addition, a customer’s ability to repay us can be negatively impacted by the restricted availability of credit to consumers generally, including reduced and closed lines of credit. Customers with insufficient cash flow to fund daily living expenses and lack of access to other sources of credit may be more likely to increase their card usage and ultimately default on their payment obligations to us, resulting in higher credit losses in our portfolio. Our collection operations may not

 

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compete effectively to secure more of customers’ diminished cash flow than our competitors. In addition, we may not identify customers who are likely to default on their payment obligations to us and reduce our exposure by closing credit lines and restricting authorizations quickly enough, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our ability to manage credit risk also may be adversely affected by legal or regulatory changes (such as bankruptcy laws and minimum payment regulations) and collection regulations, competitors’ actions and consumer behavior, as well as inadequate collections staffing, techniques, models and performance of vendors such as collection agencies.

Our allowance for loan losses may prove to be insufficient to cover losses on our loans.

We maintain an allowance for loan losses (a reserve established through a provision for losses charged to expense) that we believe is appropriate to provide for incurred losses in our loan portfolio. In addition, for portfolios we may acquire when we enter into new partner program agreements, any deterioration in the performance of the purchased portfolios after acquisition results in incremental loss reserves. Growth in our loan portfolio generally would lead to an increase in the allowance for loan losses.

The process for establishing an allowance for loan losses is critical to our results of operations and financial condition, and requires complex models and judgments, including forecasts of economic conditions. Changes in economic conditions affecting borrowers, new information regarding our loans and other factors, both within and outside of our control, may require an increase in the allowance for loan losses. We may underestimate our incurred losses and fail to maintain an allowance for loan losses sufficient to account for these losses. In cases where we modify a loan, if the modified loans do not perform as anticipated, we may be required to establish additional allowances on these loans. Moreover, our regulators, as part of their supervisory function, periodically review our methodology, models and the underlying assumptions, estimates and assessments we use for calculating, and the adequacy of, our allowance for loan losses. Our regulators, based on their judgment, may conclude that we should modify our methodology or models, increase our allowance for loan losses and/or recognize further losses.

We periodically review and update our methodology, models and the underlying assumptions, estimates and assessments we use to establish our allowance for loan losses to reflect our view of current conditions. During 2012 and 2013, we enhanced our allowance for loan losses methodology. This enhancement resulted in a more granular portfolio segmentation analysis, by loss type, included a qualitative assessment of the adequacy of the portfolio’s allowance for loan losses, which compared the allowance for losses to projected net charge-offs over the next 12 months, in a manner consistent with regulatory guidance, and was designed to provide a better estimate of the date of a probable loss event and length of time required for a probable loss event to result in a charge-off. As a result, we recognized incremental provisions of $343 million and $642 million in 2012 and 2013, respectively. We continuously review and evaluate our methodology and models, and we will implement further enhancements or changes to them, as needed. We cannot assure you that our loan loss reserves will be sufficient to cover actual losses. Future increases in the allowance for loan losses or recognized losses (as a result of any review, update, regulatory guidance or otherwise) will result in a decrease in net earnings and capital and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

If assumptions or estimates we use in preparing our financial statements are incorrect or are required to change, our reported results of operations and financial condition may be adversely affected.

We are required to use certain assumptions and estimates in preparing our financial statements under GAAP, including determining allowances for loan losses, asset impairment, reserves related to litigation and other legal matters, valuation of income and other taxes and regulatory exposures and the amounts recorded for certain contractual payments to be paid to or received from partners and others under contractual arrangements. In addition, significant assumptions and estimates are involved in determining certain disclosures required under GAAP, including those involving the fair value of our financial instruments. If the assumptions or estimates underlying our financial

 

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statements are incorrect, the actual amounts realized on transactions and balances subject to those estimates will be different, and this could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

In addition, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) is currently reviewing or proposing changes to several financial accounting and reporting standards that govern key aspects of our financial statements, including areas where assumptions or estimates are required. As a result of changes to financial accounting or reporting standards, whether promulgated or required by the FASB or other regulators, we could be required to change certain of the assumptions or estimates we previously used in preparing our financial statements, which could negatively impact how we record and report our results of operations and financial condition generally. For additional information on the key areas for which assumptions and estimates are used in preparing our financial statements, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Critical Accounting Estimates” and Note 2. Basis of Presentation and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies to our combined financial statements.

We may not be able to offset increases in our costs with decreased payments under our retailer share arrangements, which could reduce our profitability.

Most of our Retail Card program agreements and certain other program agreements contain retailer share arrangements that provide for payments to our partners if the economic performance of the relevant program exceeds a contractually defined threshold. Although the share arrangements vary by partner, these arrangements are generally structured to measure the economic performance of the program, based typically on agreed upon program revenues (including interest income and certain other income) less agreed upon program expenses (including interest expense, provision for credit losses, retailer payments and operating expenses), and share portions of this amount above a negotiated threshold. These arrangements are typically designed to permit us to achieve an economic return before we are required to make payments to our partners based on the agreed contractually defined threshold. However, because the threshold and the economic performance of a program that are used to calculate payments to our partners may be based on, among other things, agreed upon measures of program expenses rather than our actual expenses, we may not be able to pass on increases in our actual expenses (such as funding costs or operating expenses) in the form of reduced payments under our retailer share arrangements, and our economic return on a program could be adversely affected.

Competition in the consumer finance industry is intense.

The success of our business depends on our ability to retain existing partners and attract new partners. The competition for partners is intense and becoming more competitive. Our primary competitors for partners include major financial institutions, such as Alliance Data, American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, TD Bank and Wells Fargo, and to a lesser extent, potential partners’ own in-house financing capabilities. Some of our competitors are substantially larger, have substantially greater resources and may offer a broader range of products and services. We compete for partners on the basis of a number of factors, including program financial and other terms (where we are seeing increased competition), underwriting standards, marketing expertise, service levels, product and service offerings (including incentive and loyalty programs), technological capabilities and integration, brand and reputation. In addition, some of our competitors for partners have a business model that allows for their partners to manage underwriting (e.g., new account approval), customer service and collections, and other core banking responsibilities that we retain but some partners may prefer to handle. As a result of competition, we may be unable to acquire new partners, lose existing relationships to competing companies or find it more costly to maintain our existing relationships.

Our success also depends on our ability to attract and retain customers and generate usage of our products by them. The consumer credit and payments industry is also highly competitive, and we will face an increasingly dynamic industry as emerging technologies enter the marketplace. As a form of payment, our products compete with cash, checks, debit cards, Visa and MasterCard credit cards, as well as American Express, Discover Card, other private-label card brands and, to a certain extent, prepaid cards. We also compete with non-traditional providers such as PayPal. In the future, we expect our products will face increased competition from new

 

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emerging payment technologies, such as Google Wallet, ISIS Mobile Wallet and Square, as well as consortia of merchants that are expected to combine payment systems to reduce interchange and other costs (e.g., MCX). We compete for customers and their usage of our products, and to minimize transfers to competitors of our customers’ outstanding balances, based on a number of factors, including pricing (interest rates and fees), product offerings, credit limits, incentives (including loyalty programs) and customer service. Although we offer a variety of consumer credit products, some of our competitors provide a broader selection of services, including home and automobile loans, debit cards and bank branch ATM access, which may position them better among customers who prefer to use a single financial institution to meet all of their financial needs. Some of our competitors are substantially larger than we are, which may give those competitors advantages, including a more diversified product and customer base, the ability to reach out to more customers and potential customers, operational efficiencies, more versatile technology platforms, broad-based local distribution capabilities and lower-cost funding. In addition, some of our competitors, including new and emerging competitors in the digital and mobile payments space, are not subject to the same regulatory requirements or legislative scrutiny to which we are subject, which also could place us at a competitive disadvantage. Customer attrition from any or all of our credit products or any lowering of the pricing of our products by reducing interest rates or fees in order to retain customers could reduce our revenues and therefore our earnings.

In our retail deposits business, we have acquisition and servicing capabilities similar to other direct banking competitors. We compete for deposits with traditional banks and, in seeking to grow our direct banking business, we compete with other banks that have direct banking models similar to ours, such as Ally Financial, American Express, Capital One (ING), Discover, Nationwide, Sallie Mae and USAA. Competition among direct banks is intense because online banking provides customers the ability to rapidly deposit and withdraw funds and open and close accounts in favor of products and services offered by competitors.

If we are unable to compete effectively for partners, customer usage or deposits, our business and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

Our business is heavily concentrated in U.S. consumer credit, and therefore our results are more susceptible to fluctuations in that market than a more diversified company.

Our business is heavily concentrated in U.S. consumer credit. As a result, we are more susceptible to fluctuations and risks particular to U.S. consumer credit than a more diversified company. For example, our business is particularly sensitive to macroeconomic conditions that affect the U.S. economy and consumer spending and consumer credit. We are also more susceptible to the risks of increased regulations and legal and other regulatory actions that are targeted at consumer credit or the specific consumer credit products that we offer (including promotional financing). Due to our CareCredit platform, we are also more susceptible to increased regulations and legal and other regulatory actions targeted at elective healthcare related procedures or services, in contrast to other industries. Our business concentration could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

We may be unable to successfully develop and commercialize new or enhanced products and services.

Our industry is subject to rapid and significant changes in technologies, products and services. A key part of our financial success depends on our ability to develop and commercialize new products and services or enhancements to existing products and services, including with respect to loyalty programs and mobile and point of sale technologies. Realizing the benefits of those products and services is uncertain. We may not assign the appropriate level of resources, priority or expertise to the development and commercialization of these new products, services or enhancements. Our ability to develop, acquire or commercialize competitive technologies, products or services on acceptable terms or at all may be limited by intellectual property rights that third parties, including competitors and potential competitors, may assert. In addition, success is dependent on factors such as partner and customer acceptance, adoption and usage, competition, the effectiveness of marketing programs, the availability of appropriate technologies and business processes and regulatory approvals. Success of a new product, service or enhancement also may depend upon our ability to deliver it on a large scale, which may require a significant investment.

 

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We also may select, utilize and invest in technologies, products and services that ultimately do not achieve widespread adoption and therefore are not as attractive or useful to our partners, customers and service partners as we anticipate, or partners may not recognize the value of our new products and services or believe they justify any potential costs or disruptions associated with implementing them. In addition, because our products and services typically are marketed through our partners, if our partners are unwilling or unable to effectively implement our new technologies, products, services or enhancements, we may be unable to grow our business. Competitors may also develop or adopt technologies or introduce innovations that change the markets we operate in and make our products less competitive and attractive to our partners and customers.

In any event, we may not realize the benefit of new technologies, products, services or enhancements for many years or competitors may introduce more compelling products, services or enhancements. Our failure to successfully develop and commercialize new or enhanced products, services or enhancements could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

We may not realize the value of strategic investments that we pursue and such investments could divert resources or introduce unforeseen risks to our business.

We may execute strategic acquisitions or partnerships or make other strategic investments in businesses, products, technologies or platforms to enhance or grow our business. These strategic investments may introduce new costs or liabilities which could impact our ability to grow or maintain acceptable performance.

We may be unable to integrate systems, personnel or technologies from our strategic investments. These strategic investments may also present unforeseen legal, regulatory or other challenges that we may not be able to manage effectively. The planning and integration of an acquisition, partnership or investment may shift employee time and other resources which could impair our ability to focus on our core business.

Strategic investments may not perform as expected due to lack of acceptance by partners, customers or employees, higher than forecasted costs, lengthy transition periods, synergies or savings not being realized and a variety of other factors. This may result in a delay or unrealized benefit, or in some cases, increased costs or other unforeseen risks to our business.

Reductions in interchange fees may reduce the competitive advantages our private label credit card products currently have by virtue of not charging interchange fees and would reduce our income from those fees.

Interchange is a fee merchants pay to the interchange network in exchange for the use of the network’s infrastructure and payment facilitation, and which are paid to credit card issuers to compensate them for the risk they bear in lending money to customers. We earn interchange fees on Dual Card transactions but we do not charge or earn interchange fees from our partners or customers on our private label credit card products.

Merchants, trying to decrease their operating expenses, have sought to, and have had some success at, lowering interchange rates. Several recent events and actions indicate a continuing increase in focus on interchange by both regulators and merchants. Beyond pursuing litigation, legislation and regulation, merchants are also pursuing alternate payment platforms as a means to lower payment processing costs. To the extent interchange fees are reduced, one of our current competitive advantages with our partners—that we typically do not charge interchange fees when our private label credit card products are used to purchase our partners’ goods and services—may be reduced. Moreover, to the extent interchange fees are reduced, our income from those fees will be lower. We received approximately $325 million of interchange fees for the year ended December 31, 2013. As a result, a reduction in interchange fees could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. In addition, for our Dual Cards, we are subject to the operating regulations and procedures set forth by the interchange network, and our failure to comply with these operating regulations, which may change from time to time, could subject us to various penalties or fees, or the termination of our license to use the interchange network, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

 

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Fraudulent activity associated with our products and services could negatively impact our brand and reputation and cause the use of our products and services to decrease and our fraud losses to increase.

We are subject to the risk of fraudulent activity associated with partners, customers and third parties handling customer information. Our fraud-related losses have increased significantly from $72 million to $132 million to $134 million in the years ended December 31, 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. Credit card fraud, identity theft and related crimes are prevalent, and perpetrators are growing more sophisticated. Sales on the internet and through mobile channels are becoming a larger part of our business and fraudulent activity is higher as a percentage of sales in those channels than in stores. Our resources, technologies and fraud prevention tools may be insufficient to accurately detect and prevent fraud. For example, credit cards with embedded security chip technology (such as the so-called “EMV” chips) provide additional security against fraudulent activity and have been widely adopted in Europe and Asia but not in the United States. As a result, our credit cards continue to use the traditional magnetic stripes for card processing and therefore do not benefit from the embedded security chip feature. The risk of fraud continues to increase for the financial services industry in general. The level of our fraud charge-offs and results of operations could be materially adversely affected if fraudulent activity were to significantly increase. High profile fraudulent activity also could negatively impact our brand and reputation, which could negatively impact the use of our cards and thereby have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. In addition, significant increases in fraudulent activity could lead to regulatory intervention (such as customer notifications and mandatory issuance of cards with EMV chips), which could increase our costs and also negatively impact our brand and reputation.

Cyber-attacks or other security breaches could have a material adverse effect on our business.

In the normal course of business, we collect, process and retain sensitive and confidential information regarding our partners and our customers. We also have arrangements in place with our partners and other third parties through which we share and receive information about their customers who are or may become our customers. Although we devote significant resources and management focus to ensuring the integrity of our systems through information security and business continuity programs, our facilities and systems, and those of our partners and third-party service providers, are vulnerable to external or internal security breaches, acts of vandalism, computer viruses, misplaced or lost data, programming or human errors, or other similar events. We and our partners and third-party service providers have experienced all of these events in the past and expect to continue to experience them in the future. Although the impact to date from these events has not had a material adverse effect on us, we cannot be sure this will be the case in the future.

Information security risks for large financial institutions like us have increased recently in part because of new technologies, the use of the internet and telecommunications technologies (including mobile devices) to conduct financial and other business transactions and the increased sophistication and activities of organized crime, perpetrators of fraud, hackers, terrorists and others. In addition to cyber-attacks or other security breaches involving the theft of sensitive and confidential information, hackers recently have engaged in attacks against large financial institutions that are designed to disrupt key business services, such as consumer-facing web sites. The Separation and our emergence as a separately branded company could increase our profile and therefore risk of being targeted for cyber-attacks and other security breaches, including attacks targeting our key business services and websites. We are not able to anticipate or implement effective preventive measures against all security breaches of these types, especially because the techniques used change frequently and because attacks can originate from a wide variety of sources. We employ detection and response mechanisms designed to contain and mitigate security incidents, but early detection may be thwarted by sophisticated attacks and malware designed to avoid detection.

We also face risks related to cyber-attacks and other security breaches in connection with credit card transactions that typically involve the transmission of sensitive information regarding our customers through various third-parties, including our partners, merchant acquiring banks, payment processors, card networks (e.g., Visa, MasterCard) and our processors (e.g., First Data Corporation (“First Data”)). Some of these parties have in the past been the target of security breaches and cyber-attacks, and because the transactions involve third-parties

 

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and environments such as the point of sale that we do not control or secure, future security breaches or cyber-attacks affecting any of these third-parties could impact us through no fault of our own, and in some cases we may have exposure and suffer losses for breaches or attacks relating to them. We also rely on numerous other third party service providers, such as Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (“FIS”), to conduct other aspects of our business operations and face similar risks relating to them. While we regularly conduct security assessments on these third parties, we cannot be sure that their information security protocols are sufficient to withstand a cyber-attack or other security breach.

The access by unauthorized persons to, or the improper disclosure by us of, confidential information regarding our customers or our own proprietary information, software, methodologies and business secrets could result in significant legal and financial exposure, supervisory liability, damage to our reputation or a loss of confidence in the security of our systems, products and services, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, recently there have been a number of well-publicized attacks or breaches affecting others in our industry that have heightened concern by consumers generally about the security of using credit cards, which have caused some consumers, including our customers, to use our credit cards less in favor of alternative methods of payment and has led to increased regulatory focus on, and potentially new regulations relating to, these matters. Further cyber-attacks or other breaches in the future, whether affecting us or others, could intensify consumer concern and regulatory focus and result in reduced use of our cards and increased costs, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

The failure of third parties to provide various services that are important to our operations could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Some services important to our business are outsourced to third-party vendors. For example, our credit card transaction processing and production are handled by First Data, and the technology platform for our online retail deposits is managed by FIS. In some cases, a third-party vendor is the sole source or one of a limited number of sources of the services they provide for us. It would be difficult for us to replace some of our third-party vendors, particularly First Data and FIS, in a timely manner if they were unwilling or unable to provide us with these services in the future (as a result of their financial or business conditions or otherwise), and our business and operations likely would be adversely affected. First Data has publicly disclosed that it is highly leveraged and that it has incurred net losses of $869.1 million, $700.9 million and $516.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. Unless renewed or extended by the parties, our principal agreements with First Data expire under their existing terms at various times between 2016 and 2020. Unless renewed or extended by the parties, our principal agreement with FIS expires under its existing terms in 2020. In addition, if a third-party provider fails to provide the services we require, fails to meet contractual requirements, such as compliance with applicable laws and regulations, or suffers a cyber-attack or other security breach, our business could suffer economic and reputational harm that could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Disruptions in the operation of our computer systems and data centers could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Our ability to deliver products and services to our partners and our customers and operate our business in compliance with applicable laws depends on the efficient and uninterrupted operation of our computer systems and data centers, as well as those of our partners and third-party service providers. These computer systems and data centers may encounter service interruptions at any time due to system or software failure, natural disaster or other reasons. In addition, the implementation of technology changes and upgrades to maintain current and integrate new systems may also cause service interruptions, transaction processing errors and system conversion delays and may cause our failure to comply with applicable laws, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

In connection with the Separation, we must migrate, and in some cases, establish with third parties, key parts of our technology infrastructure, including our data centers. When we migrate our data centers, our partners will also need to make changes to their networks to establish connectivity with us. These infrastructure changes,

 

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both the ones that we make and the ones required of our partners, may cause disruptions, systems interruptions, transaction processing errors and system conversion delays. In addition, we have entered into transitional services arrangements with GE pursuant to which it will provide certain services to us relating to technology and business processes. Some of these transitional services arrangements will remain in effect until 2016, and during that time we will rely on GE to provide these services. The complexities of these arrangements and the services provided will increase the operational risk associated with the Separation, and this increased risk could result in unanticipated expenses, disruptions to our operations or other adverse consequences, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We expect that new technologies and business processes applicable to the consumer credit industry will continue to emerge, and these new technologies and business processes may be better than those we currently use. The pace of technology change is high and our industry is intensely competitive, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to sustain our investment in new technology as critical systems and applications become obsolete and better ones become available. A failure to maintain current technology and business processes could cause disruptions in our operations or cause our products and services to be less competitive, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We have international operations that subject us to various international risks as well as increased compliance and regulatory risks and costs.

We have international operations, primarily in India, the Philippines and Canada, and some of our third party service providers provide services to us from other countries, all of which subject us to a number of international risks, including, among other things, sovereign volatility and socio-political instability. U.S. regulations also govern various aspects of the international activities of domestic corporations and increase our compliance and regulatory risks and costs. Any failure on our part or the part of our service providers to comply with applicable U.S. regulations, as well as the regulations in the countries and markets in which we or they operate, could result in fines, penalties, injunctions or other similar restrictions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We face risks from catastrophic events.

We are subject to catastrophes such as natural disasters, severe weather conditions, health pandemics and terrorist attacks, any of which could have a negative effect on our business and technology infrastructure (including our computer network systems and data centers), our partners and their business and our customers. Catastrophic events could prevent or make it more difficult for our customers to travel to our partners’ locations to shop, thereby negatively impacting consumer spending in the effected regions, or in severe cases, nationally, interrupt or disable local or national communications networks, including the payment systems network, which could prevent our partners and our customers from using our products to make purchases or make payments (temporarily or over an extended period). These events could also impair the ability of third parties to provide critical services to us. All of these adverse effects of catastrophic events could result in a decrease in the use of our products or payments to us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

If we are alleged to have infringed upon the intellectual property rights owned by others or are not able to protect our intellectual property, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Competitors or other third parties may allege that we, or consultants or other third parties retained or indemnified by us, infringe on their intellectual property rights. We also may face allegations that our employees have misappropriated intellectual property of their former employers or other third parties. Given the complex, rapidly changing and competitive technological and business environment in which we operate, and the potential risks and uncertainties of intellectual property-related litigation, an assertion of an infringement claim against us may cause us to spend significant amounts to defend the claim (even if we ultimately prevail), pay significant money damages, lose significant revenues, be prohibited from using the relevant systems, processes,

 

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technologies or other intellectual property, cease offering certain products or services, or incur significant license, royalty or technology development expenses. Moreover, it has become common in recent years for individuals and groups to purchase intellectual property assets for the sole purpose of making claims of infringement and attempting to extract settlements from companies like ours. Even in instances where we believe that claims and allegations of intellectual property infringement against us are without merit, defending against such claims is time consuming and expensive and could result in the diversion of time and attention of our management and employees. In addition, although in some cases a third party may have agreed to indemnify us for such costs, such indemnifying party may refuse or be unable to uphold its contractual obligations.

Moreover, we rely on a variety of measures to protect our intellectual property and proprietary information, including copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets and controls on access and distribution. These measures may not prevent misappropriation or infringement of our intellectual property or proprietary information and a resulting loss of competitive advantage, and in any event, we may be required to litigate to protect our intellectual property and proprietary information from misappropriation or infringement by others, which is expensive, could cause a diversion of resources and may not be successful. Third parties may challenge, invalidate or circumvent our intellectual property, or our intellectual property may not be sufficient to provide us with competitive advantages. Our competitors or other third parties may independently design around or develop similar technology, or otherwise duplicate our services or products such that we could not assert our intellectual property rights against them. In addition, our contractual arrangements may not effectively prevent disclosure of our intellectual property or confidential and proprietary information or provide an adequate remedy in the event of an unauthorized disclosure.

Following this offering, we expect to launch our new brand, “Synchrony,” and expect to spend significant amounts over the next few years promoting the new brand. We recently filed trademark applications to protect our new name in the United States and certain other countries, but the registrations of these trademarks are not complete and they may ultimately not become registered. Our use of our new name (for our existing or any new products in the United States or other countries) may be challenged by third parties, and we may become involved in legal proceedings to protect or defend our rights with respect to our new name, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Litigation and regulatory actions could subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments and/or requirements resulting in increased expenses.

Our business is subject to increased litigation risks as a result of a number of factors and from various sources, including the highly regulated nature of the financial services industry, the focus of state and federal prosecutors on banks and the financial services industry and the structure of the credit card industry.

In the normal course of business, from time to time, we have been named as a defendant in various legal actions, including arbitrations, class actions and other litigation, arising in connection with our business activities. Certain of the legal actions include claims for substantial compensatory and/or punitive damages, or claims for indeterminate amounts of damages. In addition, while the arbitration provision in our customer agreements historically has limited our exposure to consumer class action litigation, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in enforcing our arbitration clause in the future. There may also be legislative, administrative or regulatory efforts to directly or indirectly prohibit the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses, including by the CFPB, or we may be compelled as a result of competitive pressure or reputational concerns to voluntarily eliminate pre-dispute arbitration clauses.

We are also involved, from time to time, in reviews, investigations and proceedings (both formal and informal) by governmental agencies regarding our business (collectively, “regulatory matters”), which could subject us to significant fines, penalties, obligations to change our business practices or other requirements resulting in increased expenses, diminished income and damage to our reputation. The current environment of additional regulation, increased regulatory compliance efforts and enhanced regulatory enforcement has resulted in significant operational and compliance costs and may prevent or make it less attractive for us to continue providing certain products and

 

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services. There is no assurance that these governmental actions will not, in the future, affect how we conduct our business and in turn have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We contest liability and/or the amount of damages as appropriate in each pending matter. The outcome of pending and future matters could be material to our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows depending on, among other factors, the level of our earnings for that period, and could adversely affect our business and reputation. For a discussion of certain legal proceedings, see Note 16. Legal Proceedings and Regulatory Matters to our combined financial statements.

Damage to our reputation could negatively impact our business.

Recently, financial services companies have been experiencing increased reputational risk as consumers take issue with certain of their practices or judgments. Maintaining a positive reputation is critical to our attracting and retaining customers, partners, investors and employees. In particular, adverse perceptions regarding our reputation could also make it more difficult for us to execute on our strategy of increasing retail deposits at the Bank and may lead to decreases in deposits. Harm to our reputation can arise from many sources, including employee misconduct, misconduct by our partners, outsourced service providers or other counterparties, litigation or regulatory actions, failure by us or our partners to meet minimum standards of service and quality, inadequate protection of customer information, and compliance failures. Negative publicity regarding us (or others engaged in a similar business or activities), whether or not accurate, may damage our reputation, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our business could be adversely affected if we are unable to attract, retain and motivate key officers and employees.

Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to retain, recruit and motivate key officers and employees. Our senior management team has significant industry experience and would be difficult to replace. Competition for senior executives in the financial services and payment industry is intense. We may not be able to attract and retain qualified personnel to replace or succeed members of our senior management team or other key personnel following the completion of this offering or the Separation (when we are no longer part of GE) or at any other time. Guidance issued by the federal banking regulators, as well as proposed rules implementing the executive compensation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, may limit the type and structure of compensation arrangements that we may enter into with our most senior executives. In addition, proposed rules under the Dodd-Frank Act would prohibit the payment of “excessive” compensation to our executives. Compensation paid to officers of the Bank would be subject to comparable limitations. These restrictions could negatively impact our ability to compete with other companies in recruiting, retaining and motivating key personnel. Failure to retain talented senior leadership could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Tax legislation initiatives or challenges to our tax positions could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

We operate in multiple jurisdictions and we are subject to tax laws and regulations of the U.S. federal, state and local governments, and of various foreign jurisdictions. From time to time, legislative initiatives may be proposed, such as proposals for fundamental tax reform in the United States and lowering the corporate tax rate, which may impact our effective tax rate and could adversely affect our deferred tax assets, tax positions and/or our tax liabilities. In addition, U.S. federal, state and local, as well as foreign, tax laws and regulations are extremely complex and subject to varying interpretations. There can be no assurance that our historical tax positions will not be challenged by relevant tax authorities or that we would be successful in defending our position in connection with any such challenge.

 

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State sales tax rules and regulations, and their application and interpretation by the respective states, could change and adversely affect our results of operations.

State sales tax rules and regulations, and their application and interpretation by the respective states, could adversely affect our results of operations. Retailers collect sales tax from retail customers and remit those collections to the applicable states. When customers fail to repay their loans, including the amount of sales tax advanced by us to the merchant on their behalf, we are entitled, in some cases, to seek a refund of the amount of sales tax from the applicable state. Sales tax laws and regulations enacted by the various states are subject to interpretation, and our compliance with such laws is routinely subject to audit and review by the states. Audit risk is concentrated in several states, and these states are conducting on-going audits. The outcomes of ongoing and any future audits and changes in the states’ interpretation of the sales tax laws and regulations involving the recovery of tax on bad debts could materially adversely impact our results of operations.

Risks Relating to Regulation

Our business is subject to extensive government regulation, supervision, examination and enforcement, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our business, including our relationships with our customers, is subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination under U.S. federal, state and foreign laws and regulations. These laws and regulations cover all aspects of our business, including lending practices, treatment of our customers, safeguarding deposits, customer privacy and information security, capital structure, liquidity, dividends and other capital distributions, transactions with affiliates and conduct and qualifications of personnel. As a unitary savings and loan holding company, Synchrony is subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the Federal Reserve Board. As a large provider of consumer financial services, we are also subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the CFPB. Until the GE SLHC Deregistration, we will be controlled by GECC, which is also subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the Federal Reserve Board. The Bank is a federally chartered savings association. As such, the Bank is subject to extensive regulation, supervision and examination by the OCC, which is its primary regulator, and by the CFPB. In addition, the Bank, as an insured depository institution, is supervised by the FDIC. We, GECC and the Bank are regularly reviewed and examined by our respective regulators, which results in supervisory comments and directions relating to many aspects of our business that require response and attention. See “Regulation” for more information about the regulations applicable to us.

Banking laws and regulations are primarily intended to protect federally insured deposits, the federal Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”) and the banking system as a whole, and not intended to protect our stockholders or creditors. If we or the Bank, or until the GE SLHC Deregistration, GECC, fail to satisfy applicable laws and regulations, our respective regulators have broad discretion to enforce those laws and regulations, including with respect to the operation of our business, required capital levels, payment of dividends and other capital distributions, engaging in certain activities and making acquisitions and investments. Our regulators also have broad discretion with respect to the enforcement of applicable laws and regulations, including through enforcement actions that could subject us to civil money penalties, customer remediations, increased compliance costs, and limits or prohibitions on our ability to offer certain products and services or to engage in certain activities. In addition, to the extent we undertake actions requiring regulatory approval or non-objection, our regulators may make their approval or non-objection subject to conditions or restrictions that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Any actions taken by our regulators could have a material adverse impact on our business, reputation and brand, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, some of our competitors are subject to different, and in some cases less restrictive, legislative and regulatory regimes, which may have the effect of providing them with a competitive advantage over us.

New laws or regulations or policy or practical changes in enforcement of existing laws or regulations applicable to our businesses may be imposed, which could adversely impact our profitability, limit our ability to

 

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continue existing or pursue new business activities, require us to change certain of our business practices or alter our relationships with customers, affect retention of our key personnel, or expose us to additional costs (including increased compliance costs). These changes may also require us to invest significant management attention and resources to make any necessary changes and could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. For example, the CFPB has broad authority over the businesses in which we engage. See “—The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a new agency, and there continues to be uncertainty as to how the agency’s actions will impact our business; the agency’s actions have had and may continue to have an adverse impact on our business.”

We are also subject to potential enforcement and other actions that may be brought by state attorneys general or other state enforcement authorities and other governmental agencies. Any such actions could subject us to civil money penalties, customer remediations and increased compliance costs, as well as damage our reputation and brand and limit or prohibit our ability to offer certain products and services or engage in certain business practices. For a discussion of risks related to actions or proceedings brought by regulatory agencies, see “Risks Relating to Our Business—Litigation and regulatory actions could subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments and/or requirements resulting in increased expenses.”

The Dodd-Frank Act has had, and may continue to have, a significant impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The Dodd-Frank Act was enacted on July 21, 2010. While certain provisions in the Act were effective immediately, many of the provisions require implementing regulations to be effective. The Dodd-Frank Act and regulations promulgated thereunder have had, and may continue to have, a significant adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition. For example, the Dodd-Frank Act and related regulations restrict certain business practices, impose more stringent capital, liquidity and leverage ratio requirements, as well as additional costs, on us (including increased compliance costs and increased costs of funding raised through the issuance of asset-backed securities), limit the fees we can charge for services and impact the value of our assets. We describe certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and other legislative and regulatory developments in “Regulation.” Federal agencies continue to promulgate regulations to implement the Dodd-Frank Act, and these regulations may continue to have a significant adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Many provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act require the adoption of additional rules to implement. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act mandates multiple studies, which could result in additional legislative or regulatory action. As a result, the ultimate impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and its implementing regulations remains unclear and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a new agency, and there continues to be uncertainty as to how the agency’s actions will impact our business; the agency’s actions have had and may continue to have an adverse impact on our business.

The CFPB, which commenced operations in July 2011, has broad authority over the businesses in which we engage. This includes authority to write regulations under federal consumer financial protection laws and to enforce those laws against and examine large financial institutions, such as us and the Bank, for compliance. The CFPB is authorized to prevent “unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices” through its regulatory, supervisory and enforcement authority. The Federal Reserve Board and the OCC and state government agencies may also invoke their supervisory and enforcement authorities to prevent unfair and deceptive acts or practices. These federal and state agencies are authorized to remediate violations of consumer protection laws in a number of ways, including collecting civil money penalties and fines and providing for customer restitution. The CFPB also engages in consumer financial education, requests data and promotes the availability of financial services to underserved consumers and communities. In addition, the CFPB maintains an online complaint system that allows consumers to log complaints with respect to various consumer finance products, including the products we offer. This system could inform future agency decisions with respect to its regulatory, enforcement or examination focus.

 

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There continues to be uncertainty as to how the CFPB’s strategies and priorities, including in both its examination and enforcement processes, will impact our businesses and our results of operations going forward. Actions by the CFPB could result in requirements to alter or cease offering affected products and services, making them less attractive and restricting our ability to offer them. For example, in July 2012, the CFPB issued an industry bulletin regarding marketing practices with respect to credit card add-on products, including debt cancellation products. See “Regulation—Consumer Financial Services Regulation.” The Bank has made a number of changes, including changes in response to the CFPB bulletin, with respect to its marketing and sale of debt cancellation products to credit card customers, including ceasing all telesales of such products, and the Bank has also enhanced the disclosures associated with its website sales of such products. In addition, in October 2013, the CFPB published its first biennial report reviewing the impact of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the “CARD Act”) on the consumer credit card market. In the report, the CFPB identified practices that may warrant further scrutiny by it, including add-on products (such as debt protection, identity theft protection, credit score monitoring and other products that are supplementary to the extension of credit), cards that charge substantial application fees, and deferred interest offers and products (which could include our promotional financing products). The report further identified concerns regarding the adequacy of online disclosures, as well as of the disclosures associated with rewards products and grace periods. Separately, the CFPB is also studying pre-dispute arbitration clauses, and our litigation exposure could increase if the CFPB exercises its authority to limit or ban pre-dispute arbitration clauses.

Although we have committed significant resources to enhancing our compliance programs, changes by the CFPB in regulatory expectations, interpretations or practices or interpretations that are different or stricter than ours or those adopted in the past by other regulators could increase the risk of additional enforcement actions, fines and penalties. Actions by the CFPB could result in requirements to alter our products and services that may make them less attractive to consumers or less profitable to us. In this regard, on December 10, 2013, we entered into a consent order with the CFPB relating to our CareCredit platform. See “—Changes to our methods of offering our CareCredit products could materially impact operating results.” Starting in December 2012 and continuing into 2013, the CFPB conducted a review of the Bank’s debt cancellation products and its marketing practices in its telesales channel related to those products. We are currently in discussions with the CFPB relating to this review. We cannot predict the final outcome of the discussions and the resolution could include customer remediation in addition to what we have voluntarily undertaken, as well as civil money penalties and required changes to how the Bank currently conducts its business. In addition, in 2012, the Bank discovered through an audit of its collection operations, potential violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act where certain Spanish-speaking customers and customers residing in Puerto Rico were excluded from certain statement credit and settlement offers that were made to certain delinquent customers. We provided information to the CFPB in connection with this matter and have been in discussions with them. This matter has been referred to the Department of Justice, which has initiated a civil investigation. We cannot predict the final outcome of the discussions or the investigation, and the resolution could include customer remediation in addition to what we have voluntarily undertaken, as well as civil money penalties and required changes to how the Bank currently conducts its business. There is no assurance that the resolution of these matters will not have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Future actions by the CFPB (or other regulators) that discourage the use of products we offer or suggest to consumers the desirability of other products or services could result in reputational harm and a loss of customers. If the CFPB changes regulations which were adopted in the past by other regulators and transferred to the CFPB by the Dodd-Frank Act, or modifies through supervision or enforcement past related regulatory guidance or interprets existing regulations in a different or stricter manner than they have been interpreted in the past by us, the industry or other regulators, our compliance costs and litigation exposure could increase. If future regulatory or legislative restrictions or prohibitions are imposed that affect our ability to offer promotional financing for certain of our products or require us to make significant changes to our business practices, and we are unable to develop compliant alternatives with acceptable returns, these restrictions could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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The Dodd-Frank Act authorizes state officials to enforce regulations issued by the CFPB and to enforce the Act’s general prohibition against unfair, deceptive or abusive practices. This could make it more difficult than in the past for federal financial regulators to declare state laws that differ from federal standards to be preempted. To the extent that states enact requirements that differ from federal standards or state officials and courts adopt interpretations of federal consumer laws that differ from those adopted by the CFPB, we may be required to alter or cease offering products or services in some jurisdictions, which would increase compliance costs and reduce our ability to offer the same products and services to consumers nationwide, and we may be subject to a higher risk of state enforcement actions.

Changes to our methods of offering our CareCredit products could materially impact operating results.

The consent order which we entered into with the CFPB on December 10, 2013 relating to our CareCredit platform (the “Consent Order”) requires us to pay up to $34.1 million to qualifying customers, provide additional training and monitoring of our CareCredit partners, include provisions in agreements with our CareCredit partners prohibiting charges for certain services not yet rendered, make changes to certain consumer disclosures, application procedures and procedures for resolution of customer complaints, and terminate CareCredit partners that have chargeback rates in excess of certain thresholds. Some of the business practice changes required by the Consent Order are similar to requirements in an Assurance of Discontinuance that we entered with the Attorney General for the State of New York on June 3, 2013 (the “Assurance”). However, we expect to incur additional costs and expenses in connection with the actions required under the Consent Order, in addition to the amounts we are required to pay under the Consent Order and the Assurance. We also may make similar changes in our practices with respect to other deferred interest products. We cannot be sure whether the settlement will have an adverse impact on our reputation or whether the new requirements imposed by the Assurance and the Consent Order or the changes we may make with respect to other products will adversely affect customers’ use of our credit cards or our business. In addition, our resolutions with the CFPB and the New York Attorney General do not preclude other regulators or state attorneys general from seeking additional monetary or injunctive relief with respect to CareCredit, and any such relief could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.

Failure by Synchrony, the Bank and, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, GECC to meet applicable capital adequacy rules could have a material adverse effect on us.

Synchrony and the Bank must meet rules for capital adequacy as discussed in “Regulation.” As a savings and loan holding company, Synchrony historically has not been required to maintain minimum capital. Beginning as early as 2015, however, we expect that Synchrony will be subject to capital requirements similar to those that apply to the Bank. In addition, as discussed below, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, we will be controlled by GECC, which itself is expected to be subject to capital requirements similar to those that apply to the Bank. See “—As long as we are controlled by GECC for bank regulatory purposes, regulation governing GECC could adversely affect us.” These capital requirements have recently been substantially revised, including as a result of Basel III and the requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act. Moreover, these requirements are supplemented by outstanding regulatory proposals by the federal banking agencies, based on, and in addition to, changes recently adopted by the Basel Committee to increase the amount and scope of the leverage capital requirement by increasing the assets included in the denominator of the leverage ratio calculation and by potentially decreasing the capital that may be included in the numerator. Although we cannot predict the final form or the effects of these leverage ratio regulatory proposals under the Dodd-Frank Act and the newly adopted rules implementing Basel III (even independent of any potentially increased and expanded leverage capital requirement), Synchrony, the Bank and GECC expect to be subject to increasingly stringent capital adequacy standards in the future.

In connection with applicable capital adequacy standards, Synchrony, the Bank and GECC also will be required to conduct stress tests on an annual basis. Under the Federal Reserve Board’s and the OCC’s stress test regulations, Synchrony, the Bank and GECC will each be required to use stress-testing methodologies providing for results under at least three different sets of conditions, including baseline, adverse and severely adverse

 

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conditions. In addition, as part of meeting our minimum capital requirements, we and GECC may be required to comply with the Federal Reserve Board’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (“CCAR”) process or some modified version of the CCAR process, which would measure our minimum capital requirement levels under various stress scenarios. In connection with this process, we and GECC may be required to develop for the Federal Reserve Board’s review and approval a capital plan that will include how we and GECC will each meet our minimum capital requirements under specified stress scenarios.

If Synchrony, the Bank or, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, GECC fails to meet current or future minimum capital, leverage or other financial requirements, its operations, results of operations and financial condition could be materially adversely affected. Among other things, failure by Synchrony, the Bank or, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, GECC to maintain its status as “well capitalized” could compromise our competitive position and result in restrictions imposed by the Federal Reserve Board or the OCC, including, potentially, on the Bank’s ability to engage in certain activities. These could include restrictions on the Bank’s ability to enter into transactions with affiliates, accept brokered deposits, grow its assets, engage in material transactions and extend credit in certain highly leveraged transactions, amend or change its charter, bylaws or accounting methods, pay interest on its liabilities without regard to regulatory caps on the rates that may be paid on deposits and pay dividends or repurchase stock. In addition, failure to maintain the well capitalized status of the Bank could result in our having to invest additional capital in the Bank, which could in turn require us to raise additional capital. The market and demand for, and cost of, our asset-backed securities also could be adversely affected by failure to meet current or future capital requirements.

We and the Bank are subject to restrictions that limit our ability to pay dividends and repurchase our capital stock.

Following the offering, our board of directors intends to consider our policy regarding the payment and amount of dividends. The declaration and amount of any future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on many factors, including the financial condition, earnings, capital and liquidity requirements of us and the Bank, regulatory restrictions, corporate law restrictions and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant.

We and the Bank are subject to broad regulatory restrictions on our ability to pay dividends and make capital distributions, including the repurchase of our stock. The application of these restrictions involves broad discretion by our regulators.

We are limited in our ability to pay dividends or repurchase stock by the Federal Reserve Board, including on the basis that doing so would be an unsafe or unsound banking practice. If we intend to declare or pay a dividend to our stockholders, we generally will be required to inform and consult with the Federal Reserve Board in advance to ensure that such dividend does not raise supervisory concerns. It is the policy of the Federal Reserve Board that a savings and loan holding company (like our company) should generally pay dividends on common stock only out of earnings, and only if prospective earnings retention is consistent with the organization’s capital needs and overall current and prospective financial condition. Similarly, we will be required to inform and consult with the Federal Reserve Board in advance of redeeming or repurchasing our stock if the result will be a net reduction in our equity compared to our equity as of the beginning of the quarter in which the redemption or repurchase occurs. Moreover, the approval process for any capital plan we are required to submit could result in restrictions on our ability to pay dividends or make other capital distributions. See “Regulation—Savings and Loan Holding Company Regulation—Dividends and Stock Repurchases.” In addition, as a condition to any Federal Reserve Board approval of our application to continue to be a savings and loan holding company following the GE SLHC Deregistration, we may be required to maintain liquidity or capital at a level that could affect our ability to pay dividends or repurchase our stock. The Federal Reserve Board could also prevent or restrict us with respect to paying dividends or repurchasing our stock during its consideration of our application.

 

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We rely significantly on dividends and other distributions and payments from the Bank for liquidity, and federal law limits the amount of dividends and other distributions and payments that the Bank may pay to us. For example, OCC regulations limit the ability of savings associations to make distributions of capital, including payment of dividends, stock redemptions and repurchases, cash-out mergers and other transactions charged to the capital account. The Bank must obtain the OCC’s approval prior to making a capital distribution in certain circumstances, including if the Bank proposes to make a capital distribution when it does not meet certain capital requirements (or will not do so as a result of the proposed capital distribution) or certain net income requirements. In addition, the Bank must file a prior written notice of a planned or declared dividend or other distribution with the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Reserve Board or the OCC may object to a capital distribution if, among other things, the Bank is, or as a result of such dividend or distribution would be, undercapitalized or the Federal Reserve Board has safety and soundness concerns. Additional restrictions on bank dividends may apply if the Bank fails the qualified thrift lender (“QTL”) test. The Bank must also meet certain conditions to declare or pay a dividend under the Bank’s Operating Agreement with the OCC entered into in connection with its acquisition of the deposit business of MetLife. Limitations on the Bank’s payments of dividends and other distributions and payments that we receive from the Bank could reduce our liquidity and limit our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders. See “Regulation—Savings Association Regulation—Dividends and Stock Repurchases” and “—Activities.”

Until the GE SLHC Deregistration, we will be controlled by GECC, which as a savings and loan holding company is subject to all of the same regulatory requirements regarding dividends and stock repurchases and redemptions to which we are subject. Accordingly, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, our ability to pay dividends and repurchase our stock may be affected by GECC’s ability to meet the same requirements to which we are subject. In addition, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) has designated GECC as a nonbank systemically important financial institution (“nonbank SIFI”) under the Dodd-Frank Act. As a nonbank SIFI, GECC may be required to provide a capital plan for Federal Reserve Board approval that includes proposed capital distributions (including dividends and stock redemptions or repurchases) not only by GECC but also by entities controlled by GECC, such as us. As long as we are controlled by GECC for bank regulatory purposes, any such capital plan requirement imposed on GECC by the Federal Reserve Board could affect our ability to pay dividends and to repurchase our stock. See “Regulation—Savings and Loan Holding Company Regulation—Dividends and Stock Repurchases.” Also, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, GECC will have an approval right over our ability to declare or pay any dividend or repurchase our stock. See “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company—Relationship with GE and GECC—Master Agreement—Approval Rights.”

Regulations relating to privacy, information security and data protection could increase our costs, affect or limit how we collect and use personal information and adversely affect our business opportunities.

We are subject to various privacy, information security and data protection laws, including requirements concerning security breach notification, and we could be negatively impacted by them. For example, in the United States, certain of our businesses are subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) and implementing regulations and guidance. Among other things, the GLBA: (i) imposes certain limitations on the ability of financial institutions to share consumers’ nonpublic personal information with nonaffiliated third parties, (ii) requires that financial institutions provide certain disclosures to consumers about their information collection, sharing and security practices and affords customers the right to “opt out” of the institution’s disclosure of their personal financial information to nonaffiliated third parties (with certain exceptions) and (iii) requires financial institutions to develop, implement and maintain a written comprehensive information security program containing safeguards that are appropriate to the financial institution’s size and complexity, the nature and scope of the financial institution’s activities, and the sensitivity of customer information processed by the financial institution as well as plans for responding to data security breaches.

Moreover, various United States federal banking regulatory agencies, states and foreign jurisdictions have enacted data security breach notification requirements with varying levels of individual, consumer, regulatory and/or law enforcement notification in certain circumstances in the event of a security breach. Many of these

 

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requirements also apply broadly to our partners that accept our cards. In many countries that have yet to impose data security breach notification requirements, regulators have increasingly used the threat of significant sanctions and penalties by data protection authorities to encourage voluntary notification and discourage data security breaches.

Furthermore, legislators and/or regulators in the United States and other countries in which we operate are increasingly adopting or revising privacy, information security and data protection laws that potentially could have a significant impact on our current and planned privacy, data protection and information security-related practices, our collection, use, sharing, retention and safeguarding of consumer and/or employee information, and some of our current or planned business activities. This could also increase our costs of compliance and business operations and could reduce income from certain business initiatives. In the United States, this includes increased privacy-related enforcement activity at the Federal level, by the Federal Trade Commission, as well as at the state level, such as with regard to mobile applications.

Compliance with current or future privacy, data protection and information security laws (including those regarding security breach notification) affecting customer and/or employee data to which we are subject could result in higher compliance and technology costs and could restrict our ability to provide certain products and services (such as products or services that involve us sharing information with third parties or storing sensitive credit card information), which could materially and adversely affect our profitability. Our failure to comply with privacy, data protection and information security laws could result in potentially significant regulatory and/or governmental investigations and/or actions, litigation, fines, sanctions and damage to our reputation and our brand.

Our use of third-party vendors and our other ongoing third-party business relationships are subject to increasing regulatory requirements and attention.

We regularly use third-party vendors and subcontractors as part of our business. We also have substantial ongoing business relationships with our partners and other third-parties. These types of third-party relationships are subject to increasingly demanding regulatory requirements and attention by our federal bank regulators (the Federal Reserve Board, the OCC and the FDIC) and our consumer regulator (the CFPB). Regulation requires us to enhance our due diligence, ongoing monitoring and control over our third-party vendors and subcontractors and other ongoing third-party business relationships, including with our partners. In certain cases we may be required to renegotiate our agreements with these vendors and/or their subcontractors to meet these enhanced requirements, which could increase our costs. We expect that our regulators will hold us responsible for deficiencies in our oversight and control of our third-party relationships and in the performance of the parties with which we have these relationships. As a result, if our regulators conclude that we have not exercised adequate oversight and control over our third-party vendors and subcontractors or other ongoing third-party business relationships or that such third parties have not performed appropriately, we could be subject to enforcement actions, including civil money penalties or other administrative or judicial penalties or fines as well as requirements for customer remediation.

As long as we are controlled by GECC for bank regulatory purposes, regulation governing GECC could adversely affect us.

GECC is a regulated savings and loan holding company and therefore is subject to all of the regulatory obligations to which we are subject. Until the GE SLHC Deregistration, GECC’s regulatory obligations as a savings and loan holding company may, for reasons related or unrelated to us, adversely affect us, including restricting our ability to initiate or continue various business activities or practices, pay dividends or repurchase our stock.

As a nonbank SIFI, GECC, our indirect parent company, is subject to enhanced prudential standards and regulation by the Federal Reserve Board, which is expected to include regulatory capital requirements. Nonbank SIFIs, such as GECC, currently are subject to some, but not all, of the enhanced prudential standards under the Dodd-Frank Act. The Federal Reserve Board has issued regulations implementing certain of the enhanced prudential standards of the Dodd-Frank Act for bank holding companies and foreign banking organizations, but

 

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not for nonbank SIFIs. In connection with these regulations, the Federal Reserve Board has indicated that it will apply enhanced prudential standards to an individual nonbank SIFI, such as GECC, by rule or order. Although the enhanced prudential standards currently applicable to GECC in its capacity as a nonbank SIFI do not have the effect of imposing direct regulatory obligations on us, we cannot be certain that standards imposed by rule or order on GECC as a nonbank SIFI by the Federal Reserve Board in the future will not have the effect of directly or indirectly imposing obligations on us so long as we are controlled by GECC for bank regulatory purposes.

Risks Relating to Our Separation from GE

GE may not complete the Separation as planned or at all.

On November 15, 2013, GE announced that it planned a staged exit from our business, consistent with its strategy of reducing GECC’s percentage of GE’s total earnings and increasing GECC’s focus on its commercial financing businesses. This offering is the first step in that exit. After the completion of this offering, GE will beneficially own     % of our outstanding common stock (or     % if the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us is exercised in full).

GE has indicated that after this offering it currently is targeting to complete its exit from our business in 2015 through the Separation. The Separation would be subject to various conditions, including receipt of any necessary bank regulatory and other approvals, the existence of satisfactory market conditions, and, in the case of a tax-free transaction, GE’s receipt of a private letter ruling from the IRS as to certain issues relating to, and an opinion of counsel confirming, the tax-free treatment of the transaction to GE and its stockholders. In addition, since GE’s exit from our business will not be completed until GE has obtained the GE SLHC Deregistration, GE’s willingness to proceed with the Separation may be conditioned on its obtaining the necessary determination by the Federal Reserve Board that the GE SLHC Deregistration is effective (i.e., that, following the Separation, GE, along with GECC and GECFI, no longer controls us and therefore GE, GECC and GECFI are released from savings and loan holding company registration).

The conditions related to the Separation, and the GE SLHC Deregistration, may not be satisfied in 2015 or thereafter, or GE may decide for any other reason not to consummate the Separation in 2015 or thereafter. Any delay by GE in completing, or uncertainty about its ability or intent to complete, the Separation and the GE SLHC Deregistration on the planned timetable, on the contemplated terms (including at the contemplated capital and liquidity levels), or at all, could have a material adverse effect on our company and the market price for our common stock.

If GE is unable to obtain the GE SLHC Deregistration, it will continue to have significant control over us.

If the GE SLHC Deregistration is not obtained, GE will continue to have significant control over us. GE’s degree of control will depend on, among other things, its level of ownership of our common stock, the number of persons it is entitled to designate for nomination for election to our board of directors under the Master Agreement and the requirement under the Master Agreement that we obtain GECC’s prior written approval before undertaking (or permitting or authorizing the Bank or any of our other subsidiaries to undertake) various significant corporate actions. This may mean that GE (through GECC) does not always exercise its control in a way that benefits our public stockholders. Conflicts of interest may arise between us and GE that could be resolved in a manner unfavorable to us. We will also continue to be subject to the regulatory supervision applicable to GE and companies under its control and the trading market for our common stock may be depressed until the GE SLHC Deregistration is obtained. See “—GE has significant control over us and may not always exercise its control in a way that benefits our public stockholders.”

 

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We need Federal Reserve Board approval to continue to be a savings and loan holding company following the GE SLHC Deregistration, and we cannot be certain we will receive this approval in a timely manner or at all, or what approval conditions may be imposed.

The Savings and Loan Holding Company Act generally requires Federal Reserve Board approval before a company acquires a savings association and becomes a savings and loan holding company. We were exempt from this requirement when we initially acquired the Bank and became a savings and loan holding company, because we were a subsidiary of GE, GECC and GECFI, existing savings and loan holding companies. We do not expect this exemption to continue to apply to us following the GE SLHC Deregistration. As a result, we will be required to file an application with, and receive approval from, the Federal Reserve Board to continue to be a savings and loan holding company and to retain ownership of the Bank following the GE SLHC Deregistration. See “Regulation—Savings and Loan Holding Company Regulation.”

We do not expect that the Federal Reserve Board will act on our application to continue to be a savings and loan holding company and to retain ownership of the Bank following the GE SLHC Deregistration until it has completed an in-depth review of our preparedness to operate on a standalone basis, independently of GE. We do not expect this review to commence until some period after the completion of this offering. We cannot predict when the Federal Reserve Board will commence this review or how long it will take to complete the review. We expect the review will require a significant period of time. In addition, as a result of the Federal Reserve Board review, we may have to take additional actions beyond the significant infrastructure expansion we are already planning and implementing to satisfy the Federal Reserve Board that we are prepared to operate on a standalone basis, independently of GE. Those actions may involve significant additional expenses for us and require significant time to implement.

We also cannot assure you that our application to continue to be a savings and loan holding company following the GE SLHC Deregistration will be approved. The Federal Reserve Board’s action on our application may be affected by circumstances we do not know or cannot predict at this time, including factors identified in the Federal Reserve Board’s in-depth review of us, changes from our current condition or changes in general economic and market conditions relevant to our operations. If the application is not approved, GE will not be able to obtain the GE SLHC Deregistration as currently planned. GE may be unwilling to proceed with the Separation unless or until it is able to obtain the GE SLHC Deregistration. Even if our application is approved, we cannot be certain when such approval will be granted, or what conditions or restrictions, if any, will be imposed for such approval. The Federal Reserve Board’s approval could include conditions or restrictions more onerous than those generally applicable to savings and loan holding companies, such as requiring higher capital or liquidity levels or imposing more extensive restrictions on our ability to pay dividends or repurchase stock, engage in various business activities or grow our business. Any such conditions or restrictions could be significant and have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. GE’s ability or willingness to proceed with the Separation as currently planned could be affected by the nature and effect of any such conditions or restrictions.

If the GE SLHC Deregistration is obtained, we also will need Federal Reserve Board agreement that we meet the criteria for a savings and loan holding company to be treated as a financial holding company, and we cannot be certain of such agreement without us having to take additional steps, such as with respect to capital enhancements.

We currently are a grandfathered unitary savings and loan holding company, but do not expect to continue to qualify as such a grandfathered unitary savings and loan holding company following the GE SLHC Deregistration. As a result, in connection with our application to continue to be a savings and loan holding company, we will need to submit to the Federal Reserve Board a request to become a financial holding company in order to engage in activities that are permissible only for savings and loan holding companies that are treated as financial holding companies (including to continue to obtain financing through our securitization programs). We believe that we will meet the criteria for a savings and loan holding company to be treated as a financial holding company. However, we cannot assure you that the Federal Reserve Board will agree, or that the Federal Reserve Board will not impose conditions or restrictions, such as requiring higher capital or liquidity levels or imposing more extensive restrictions on our ability to

 

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pay dividends or repurchase stock, engage in various business activities or grow our business, before it will permit our submission to become a financial holding company to be effective. GE’s ability or willingness to proceed with the Separation as currently planned could be affected by the nature of any such conditions or restrictions required by the Federal Reserve Board in order for us to be treated as a financial holding company.

Prior to the Separation and the GE SLHC Deregistration, we need to significantly expand many aspects of our infrastructure, and our failure to do so in a timely manner, within anticipated costs and without disrupting our ongoing business, could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations and could delay or prevent the Separation and the GE SLHC Deregistration.

Although historically we have operated as a largely standalone business within GECC with our own sales, marketing, risk management, operations, collections, customer service and compliance functions, we need to significantly expand many aspects of our infrastructure prior to the Separation to enable us to operate as a fully standalone public company after our transitional services with GE terminate (for most services, within 24 months after the completion of this offering) and to enable GE to obtain the GE SLHC Deregistration in connection with the Separation or thereafter. The infrastructure to be expanded relates to, among other areas, enterprise risk governance and management, information technology systems, data storage, treasury and finance, and investor relations. Expanding the infrastructure will involve substantial costs, the hiring and integration of a large number of new employees (including a number at senior levels), and integration of the new and expanded infrastructure with our existing infrastructure, and in some cases, the infrastructure of our partners and other third parties. It will also require significant time and attention from our senior management and others throughout the company, in addition to their day to day responsibilities running the business. We cannot be sure we will be able to expand the infrastructure to the extent required, in the time required, or at the costs anticipated, and without disrupting our ongoing business operations in a material way, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. Moreover, we do not expect that the Federal Reserve Board will act on our application to continue to be a savings and loan holding company and to retain ownership of the Bank following the GE SLHC Deregistration until it has completed an in-depth review of our preparedness to operate on a standalone basis, which we expect to involve a review of much of the new infrastructure we will be adding. As a result, delays in expanding our infrastructure may delay the review of our preparedness by the Federal Reserve Board, and this could delay the Separation and the GE SLHC Deregistration. See “—GE may not complete the Separation as planned or at all.”

The Separation could adversely affect our business and profitability due to GE’s strong brand and reputation.

As a subsidiary of GE, we market many of our products using the “GE” brand name and logo, and we believe the association with GE has provided many benefits, including:

 

    a world-class brand associated with trust, integrity and longevity;

 

    perception of high-quality products and services;

 

    strong capital base and financial strength;

 

    preferred status among our partners, customers and employees; and

 

    established relationships with bank and other regulators.

The Separation could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain partners. We may be required to provide more favorable pricing and other terms to our partners and take other action to maintain our relationship with existing, and attract new, partners, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Although we do not expect a material loss of customers or usage following the Separation (or more difficulty attracting new customers and increasing their usage) because our product will continue to be closely associated with our partners and their brands, we cannot be sure this will be the case. In addition, although our

 

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capital at the Bank will be increased in connection with this offering and the customer facing aspects of our business will remain largely unchanged following this offering and the Separation, we cannot be sure that we will not lose deposits or have more difficulty attracting new deposits following this offering or the Separation because of depositor concerns that we will no longer be part of GE and benefitting from its brand and financial strength.

We cannot predict the effect that this offering and the Separation will have on our partners, customers, depositors or employees. The risks relating to this offering and the Separation could materialize at various times, including:

 

    immediately upon the completion of this offering, when GE’s beneficial ownership in our common stock will decrease to     % (    % if the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us is exercised in full);

 

    when GE reduces its ownership in our common stock to a level below 50%; and

 

    when we cease using the GE name and logo in our sales and marketing materials, particularly when we deliver notices to partners, customers and depositors that our name and the name of the Bank and some of our other subsidiaries will change.

We will only have the right to use the GE brand name and logo for a limited period of time and if we fail to establish a new, independently recognized brand name, we could be adversely affected.

In March 2014 we changed our corporate name to “SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL,” although we, the Bank and our other subsidiaries may continue to use the GE brand name and logo in marketing our products and services for a limited period of time. Pursuant to a transitional trademark license agreement, GE will grant us the right to use certain “GE,” “GE Capital,” “GE Capital Retail Bank,” “GE Money” and “GECAF” marks and related logos and the GE monogram in connection with our products and services until such time as GE ceases to beneficially own more than 50% of our outstanding common stock, subject to certain exceptions (e.g., we will have a right to use those marks and related logos and the monogram on our credit cards for a period of three and a half years after the completion of this offering). Development of a new brand is an expensive, uncertain and long-term process. When our right to use the GE brand name and logo expires, we may not be able to maintain or enjoy comparable name recognition or status under our new brand. If we are unable to successfully manage the transition of our business to our new brand in a timely manner, our reputation among our partners, customers, depositors and employees could be adversely affected.

The terms of our arrangements with GE may be more favorable than we will be able to obtain from an unaffiliated third party. We may be unable to replace the services GECC provides us in a timely manner or on comparable terms.

We and GECC will enter into a transitional services agreement and other agreements prior to the completion of this offering. Pursuant to the transitional services agreement, GECC and its affiliates will agree to provide us with transitional services after this offering, including treasury, payroll, tax and other financial services, human resources and employee benefits services, information systems and network access, application and support related services, and procurement and sourcing support.

We negotiated these arrangements with GECC in the context of a parent-subsidiary relationship. Although GECC is contractually obligated to provide us with services during the term of the transitional services agreement, we cannot assure you that these services will be sustained at the same level after the expiration of that agreement, or that we will be able to replace these services in a timely manner or on comparable terms. When GECC ceases to provide services pursuant to those arrangements, our costs of procuring those services from third parties may increase. Other agreements with GE and GECC also will govern the relationship between us and GE after this offering and will provide for the allocation of employee benefits, tax and other liabilities and obligations attributable or related to periods or events prior to this offering. They also contain terms and

 

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provisions that may be more favorable than terms and provisions we might have obtained in arm’s length negotiations with unaffiliated third parties. See “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company—Relationship with GE and GECC.”

GE has significant control over us and may not always exercise its control in a way that benefits our public stockholders.

Upon the completion of this offering, GE will beneficially own approximately     % of our outstanding common stock (    % if the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us is exercised in full). GE has indicated that, following completion of this offering, it intends to divest its remaining interest in us. However, so long as GE continues to beneficially own more than 50% of our outstanding voting stock, GE generally will be able to determine the outcome of corporate actions requiring stockholder approval.

The Master Agreement will give GECC certain significant rights until such time, if any, as the GE SLHC Deregistration occurs. Some of GECC’s rights under the Master Agreement will not terminate until the GE SLHC Deregistration occurs, and therefore it is possible that GE will exercise some or all of such rights at a time when it does not own any of our common stock. Under the Master Agreement, GECC will have the right to designate five persons for nomination for election to our nine-member board of directors so long as GE beneficially owns more than 50% of our outstanding common stock and to designate a lesser number as GE’s percentage ownership decreases until the GE SLHC Deregistration. In addition, subject to certain exceptions and ownership thresholds, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, we will be required to obtain GECC’s prior written approval before undertaking (or permitting or authorizing the Bank or any of our other subsidiaries to undertake) various significant corporate actions. These include (subject to certain agreed exceptions):

 

    consolidating or merging with or into any person;

 

    acquiring control of a bank or savings association;

 

    acquiring or disposing of assets for a price in excess of $500 million (other than receivables portfolios valued at less than $1 billion);

 

    incurring or guaranteeing debt that would reasonably be expected to result in a downgrade of our publicly-issued debt below specified ratings at the time of this offering;

 

    issuing, paying dividends on or repurchasing our capital stock;

 

    entering into a new principal line of business or a business outside of the United States and Canada;

 

    amending our certificate of incorporation or bylaws;

 

    changing the size of our board of directors; or

 

    adopting a shareholder rights plan or similar defensive measures.

GE’s interests may differ from your interests, and therefore actions GE takes with respect to us, as a controlling or significant stockholder or under the Master Agreement, may not be favorable to you.

As long as GE owns a majority of our common stock, we will rely on certain of the exemptions from the corporate governance requirements of the NYSE available for “controlled companies”.

Upon the completion of this offering, we will be a “controlled company” within the meaning of the corporate governance listing standards of the NYSE because GE will continue to own more than 50% of our outstanding common stock. A “controlled company” may elect not to comply with certain corporate governance requirements of the NYSE. Consistent with this, the Master Agreement will provide that, so long as we are a “controlled company,” we will elect not to comply with the requirements to have a majority of independent directors or to have the Nominating and Corporate Governance and Management Development and

 

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Compensation Committees of our board of directors consist entirely of independent directors. Upon completion of this offering, we expect that six of our nine directors, including one member of the board of directors’ Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and one member of the board of directors’ Management Development and Compensation Committee, will not qualify as “independent directors” under the applicable rules of the NYSE. As a result, you will not have certain of the protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance requirements of the NYSE.

Our historical combined and pro forma financial information do not reflect the results we would have achieved as a standalone company and may not be a reliable indicator of our future results.

The historical combined and pro forma financial information included in this prospectus does not reflect the financial condition, results of operations or cash flows we would have achieved as a standalone company during the periods presented and may not be a reliable indicator of our future results. The pro forma financial information depends on various assumptions that may be incorrect. For example, the actual weighted average funding cost for additional debt incurred in connection with the Transactions may be higher than that assumed for purposes of preparing the pro forma financial information, interest earned on additional assets may be lower than assumed, or the Planned Debt Offering may not occur. The pro forma financial information also does not give effect to or make any adjustment for various factors including anticipated increases in our operating expense following this offering and increases in payments under recently extended program agreements.

In addition, the historical combined and pro forma financial information does not reflect the impact of any conditions or restrictions that may be imposed by the Federal Reserve Board in connection with the GE SLHC Deregistration, including requiring higher capital or liquidity levels or restricting our business activities or growth. Accordingly, our historical combined and pro forma financial information should not be relied upon as representative or indicative of what our financial condition or results of operations would have been had the Transactions occurred on the dates indicated. This information also should not be relied upon as representative or indicative of our future financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. For additional information relating to our historical combined and pro forma financial information, see “Selected Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information.”

The obligations associated with being a public company will require significant resources and management attention.

In connection with this offering, we will become subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”) and SEC rules under that act. The Exchange Act requires that we file annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and SEC rules thereunder require, among other things, that we establish and maintain effective internal controls and procedures for financial reporting. We have established all of the procedures and practices required as a subsidiary of GE but we will have additional procedures and practices to establish as a separate, standalone public company. As a result, we will incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not previously incur. Furthermore, the need to establish the corporate infrastructure necessary for a standalone public company may divert some of management’s attention from operating our business and implementing our strategy. We have made, and will continue to make, changes to our internal controls and procedures for financial reporting and accounting systems to meet our reporting obligations. However, the measures we take may not be sufficient to satisfy our obligations as a public company. In addition, we cannot predict or estimate the amount of additional costs we may incur in order to comply with these requirements.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and SEC rules require annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, starting with the second annual report that we file with the SEC, and, in the annual report for the next succeeding year, a report by our independent auditors addressing such assessments. Failure to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment could have a material adverse effect on our business and stock price.

 

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GE could engage in business and other activities that compete with us.

GE has agreed that, subject to certain exceptions, for two years after GE’s beneficial ownership of our common stock decreases below a certain threshold, it will not engage in the business of providing credit to consumers through: (i) private label credit cards or dual cards in conjunction with programs with retailers, merchants or healthcare providers primarily for the purchase of goods and services from the applicable retailer, merchant or healthcare provider, or (ii) general purpose credit cards, in each case, in the United States and Canada. See “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company—Relationship with GE and GECC—Master Agreement—Noncompetition Agreement.” Our certificate of incorporation provides that, other than that non-compete agreement and any other contractual provisions to the contrary, GE will have no obligation to refrain from:

 

    engaging in the same or similar business activities or lines of business as us; or

 

    doing business with any of our partners, customers or vendors.

GE has significant financial services businesses, including owning a bank that takes deposits (in addition to the Bank), providing consumer financing outside the United States and Canada (including private label credit cards) and providing commercial financing (including inventory, floorplan and other financing to small and medium-sized businesses). Following this offering, GE will continue to engage in these businesses. To the extent that GE engages in the same or similar business activities or lines of business as us, or engages in business with any of our partners, customers or vendors, our ability to successfully operate and expand our business may be hampered.

Conflicts of interest may arise between us and GE that could be resolved in a manner unfavorable to us.

Questions relating to conflicts of interest may arise between us and GE in a number of areas relating to our past and ongoing relationships. Six of our directors (one of whom is our Chief Executive Officer) and many of our senior executive officers are also officers of GE and/or GECC. These directors and officers own GE stock and options to purchase GE stock, and all of them participate in GE pension plans. Ownership interests of our directors or officers in GE stock, or service as both a director of our company and an officer of GE and/or GECC, could give rise to potential conflicts of interest when a director or officer is faced with a decision that could have different implications for the two companies. These potential conflicts could arise, for example, over matters such as the desirability of changes in our business and operations, funding and capital matters, regulatory matters, matters arising with respect to the Master Agreement and other agreements with GE, employee retention or recruiting, or our dividend policy.

The corporate opportunity policy set forth in our certificate of incorporation addresses certain potential conflicts of interest between our company, on the one hand, and GE and its officers who are directors of our company, on the other hand. By becoming a stockholder in our company, you will be deemed to have notice of and have consented to these provisions of our certificate of incorporation. Although these provisions are designed to resolve certain conflicts between us and GE fairly, we cannot assure you that any conflicts will be so resolved. The principles for resolving these potential conflicts of interest are described under “Description of Capital Stock—Provisions of Our Certificate of Incorporation Relating to Related Party Transactions and Corporate Opportunities.”

If GE distributes our stock to its stockholders in exchange for its common stock in a transaction that is intended to be tax-free to GE, we could have a material indemnification obligation to GE under the TSSA if we cause the distribution or certain related preliminary internal transactions to fail to qualify for tax-free treatment.

GE has indicated that after this offering it currently intends to complete its exit from its investment in us by making a distribution of all of its remaining shares of our stock to its stockholders in exchange for GE’s common stock in a transaction that would be designed to qualify for tax-free treatment to GE and its stockholders under Section 355 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). Completion by GE of any such distribution is conditioned on, among other things, the receipt and continuing application of a private letter ruling from the IRS regarding certain issues relating to, and an opinion from tax counsel confirming, the tax-free treatment under Section 355 of the Code of the distribution and the tax-free treatment of a series of preliminary transactions that would be required

 

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prior to implementing the distribution. The IRS ruling and the opinion of tax counsel will rely on certain facts, assumptions, representations and undertakings from GE and us regarding the past and future conduct of GE’s and our businesses and other matters. If any of these facts, assumptions, representations or undertakings is incorrect or not otherwise satisfied, GE may not be able to rely on the IRS ruling or the opinion of tax counsel. Accordingly, notwithstanding the IRS ruling and the opinion of tax counsel, the IRS could determine that the distribution (or any of the preliminary transactions) is taxable if it determines that any of these facts, assumptions, representations or undertakings are not correct or have been violated or if it disagrees with the conclusions in the opinion that are not covered by the IRS ruling, or for other reasons, including as a result of certain significant changes in the stock ownership of GE or us after the distribution. If the distribution (or any of the preliminary transactions) is determined to be taxable, GE could incur significant tax liabilities, and under the tax sharing and separation agreement (the “TSSA”) we will enter into with GE prior to the completion of this offering, we may be required to indemnify GE for any such liabilities if the liability is caused by any action or inaction undertaken by us following the distribution or as a result of significant changes in the direct or indirect ownership of our stock.

In order to preserve the tax-free status of the distribution and the preliminary transactions to GE, the TSSA includes a provision generally prohibiting us from taking action after the distribution that would cause the distribution (or the preliminary transactions) to become taxable. As a result, and given our indemnity obligation to GE under the TSSA for tax liabilities incurred by GE as a result of a breach of these provisions by us, we may be required to forgo certain significant transactions that would otherwise have been advantageous to us for a period of time following the distribution, such as certain dispositions of our assets or issuances of our stock. For a discussion of the TSSA, see “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company—Relationship with GE and GECC—Tax Sharing and Separation Agreement.”

Risks Relating to This Offering

Future sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock may depress the price of our shares.

If GE or any of our other stockholders sells or otherwise disposes of a large number of shares of our common stock (whether through the Separation or otherwise), or if we issue a large number of shares of our common stock in connection with future acquisitions, financings, or other circumstances, the market price of shares of our common stock could decline significantly. Moreover, GE’s intention to divest of its remaining shares of our common stock or the perception in the public market that other stockholders might sell shares of our common stock could depress the market price of our common stock.

All the shares of our common stock sold in this offering will be freely tradable without restriction, except for shares of our common stock owned by any of our affiliates, including GE. Immediately after this offering, the public market for our common stock will include only the              million shares of our common stock that are being sold in this offering, or              million shares of our common stock if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares of our common stock from us in full. After this offering, we intend to register              million shares of our common stock, which are reserved for issuance under our employee benefit plans. Once we register these shares, they can be sold in the public market upon issuance, subject to restrictions under the securities laws applicable to resales by affiliates. In addition, we have granted GECC demand and “piggyback” registration rights with respect to the shares of our common stock it will hold upon the completion of this offering. GECC may exercise its demand and piggyback registration rights, and any shares of our common stock so registered will be freely tradable in the public market, except for shares acquired by any of our affiliates. See “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company—Relationship with GE and GECC—Registration Rights Agreement” and “Shares Eligible for Future Sale.”

Our directors, executive officers and GECFI have entered into lock-up agreements in which they have agreed that they will not sell, directly or indirectly, any shares of our common stock for a period of      days from the date of this prospectus (subject to certain exceptions) without the prior written consent of             . See “Shares Eligible for Future Sale.”

 

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Our common stock has no prior public market, and we cannot assure you that an active trading market will develop.

Prior to this offering, there has not been a market for our common stock. We will apply to list our common stock on the NYSE and our application may not be approved or an active trading market in our common stock might not develop or continue. If you purchase shares of our common stock in this offering, you will pay a price that was not established in a competitive market. Rather, you will pay a price that was determined through negotiations with the representatives of the underwriters based upon an assessment of the valuation of our common stock and a book-building process. The public market may not agree with or accept this valuation, in which case you may not be able to sell your shares of our common stock at or above the initial offering price. In addition, if an active trading market does not develop, you may have difficulty selling your shares of our common stock at an attractive price, or at all. An inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock and may impair our ability to acquire other companies, products or technologies by using shares of our common stock as consideration.

The price of our common stock may be volatile and may be affected by market conditions beyond our control.

Our share price is likely to fluctuate in the future because of the volatility of the stock market in general and a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

 

    general market conditions;

 

    domestic and international economic factors unrelated to our performance;

 

    quarterly variations in actual or anticipated results of our operations;

 

    changes in or failure to meet our publicly disclosed expectations as to our future financial performance;

 

    downgrades in securities analysts’ estimates of our financial performance, failures to meet analyst expectations or lack of research and reports by industry analysts;

 

    changes in market valuations or earnings of similar companies;

 

    any future sales of our common stock or other securities;

 

    additions or departures of key personnel;

 

    actions or announcements by our competitors;

 

    reputational issues;

 

    regulatory and tax actions;

 

    changes in our capital structure or dividend policy, including as a result of the Separation, regulatory requirements, future issuances of securities, sales of large blocks of common stock by our stockholders (including GE), or our incurrence of additional debt; and

 

    announcements or actions taken by GE as our principal stockholder.

The stock market has recently experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations. The market prices of securities of financial services companies have experienced fluctuations that often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating results of these companies. For example, we are currently operating in, and have benefited from, a protracted period of historically low interest rates that will not be sustained indefinitely, and future fluctuations in interest rates could cause an increase in volatility of the market price of our common stock. Market fluctuations could result in extreme volatility in the price of shares of our common stock, which could cause a decline in the value of your investment. You should also be aware that price volatility may be greater if the public float and trading volume of shares of our common stock is low. Furthermore, in the past, stockholders have sometimes instituted securities class action litigation against companies following periods of volatility in the market price of their securities. Any similar litigation against us could result in substantial costs, divert management’s attention and resources, and harm our business or results of operations.

 

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We may change our dividend policy at any time.

Although following the offering our board of directors intends to consider our policy regarding the payment and amount of dividends, we have no obligation to pay any dividend, and our dividend policy may change at any time without notice to our stockholders. The declaration and amount of any future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on many factors, including the financial condition, earnings, capital and liquidity requirements of us and the Bank, regulatory restrictions, legal requirements and other factors that the board of directors deems relevant. As a result, we cannot assure you that we will pay dividends at any rate or at all.

Applicable laws and regulations, provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws and certain contractual rights granted to GE may discourage takeover attempts and business combinations that stockholders might consider in their best interests.

Applicable laws, provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws, and certain contractual rights granted to GE under the Master Agreement may delay, deter, prevent or render more difficult a takeover attempt that our stockholders might consider in their best interests. For example, they may prevent our stockholders from receiving the benefit from any premium to the market price of our common stock offered by a bidder in a takeover context. Even in the absence of a takeover attempt, the existence of these provisions may adversely affect the prevailing market price of our common stock if they are viewed as discouraging takeover attempts in the future.

Takeover attempts, business combinations and certain acquisitions of our common stock may require prior approval of or notice to the Federal Reserve Board. If a company seeks to acquire, either acting alone or in concert with others, 25% or more of any class of our voting stock, acquire control of the election or appointment of a majority of the directors on our board of directors, or exercise a controlling influence over our management or policies, it would be required to obtain the prior approval of the Federal Reserve Board. In addition, if any individual seeks to acquire, either acting alone or in concert with others, 25% or more of any class of our voting stock, the individual generally is required to provide 60 days’ prior notice to the Federal Reserve Board. An individual (and also a company not otherwise required to obtain Federal Reserve Board approval to control us) is presumed to control us, and therefore generally required to provide 60 days’ prior notice to the Federal Reserve Board, if the individual (or such company) acquires 10% or more of any class of our voting stock, although the individual (or such company) may seek to rebut the presumption of control based on the facts.

Section 203 of the General Corporation Law of the state of Delaware (“DGCL”) may affect the ability of an “interested stockholder” to engage in certain business combinations, including mergers, consolidations or acquisitions of additional shares from the corporation, for a period of three years following the time that the stockholder becomes an “interested stockholder.” An “interested stockholder” is defined to include persons owning directly or indirectly 15% or more of the outstanding voting stock of a corporation. However, our certificate of incorporation provides that we will not be governed by Section 203 of the DGCL until GE reduces its ownership interest in us to less than 15% of our outstanding common stock.

Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws will include provisions that may have anti-takeover effects and may delay, deter or prevent a takeover attempt that our stockholders might consider in their best interests. For example, our certificate of incorporation and by-laws will:

 

    until the earlier of (i) the time immediately prior to the Split-off and (ii) the GE SLHC Deregistration, preclude any stockholder or group (other than GE or its affiliates and certain other exempt persons) from voting more than 4.99% of our voting stock outstanding following this offering;

 

    permit our board of directors to issue one or more series of preferred stock with such powers, rights and preferences as the board of directors shall determine;

 

    provide that only the board of directors may fill newly-created directorships or vacancies on our board of directors;

 

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    limit the ability of stockholders (other than GE) to call special meetings of stockholders and require that all stockholder action be taken at a meeting rather than by written consent; and

 

    establish advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and nominations of candidates for election as directors (except for GE’s designation of persons for nomination by the board of directors).

Until the GE SLHC Deregistration occurs, the Master Agreement will give GECC the right to designate a person or persons for nomination to our board of directors. So long as GE beneficially owns more than 50% of our outstanding common stock, GECC will have the right to designate for nomination five of the board of directors’ nine nominees for election as a director. This number will decrease as GE’s percentage ownership decreases.

The Master Agreement will also require that, until the GE SLHC Deregistration, we must obtain GECC’s prior written approval before undertaking (or permitting or authorizing the Bank or any of our other subsidiaries to undertake) various significant corporate actions. See “—GE has significant control over us and may not always exercise its control in a way that benefits our public stockholders.”

These limitations may adversely affect the prevailing market price and market for our common stock if they are viewed as limiting the liquidity of our stock or discouraging takeover attempts in the future.

Our common stock is and will be subordinate to all of our existing and future indebtedness and any preferred stock, and effectively subordinated to all indebtedness and preferred equity claims against our subsidiaries.

Shares of our common stock are common equity interests in us and, as such, will rank junior to all of our existing and future indebtedness and other liabilities. Additionally, holders of our common stock may become subject to the prior dividend and liquidation rights of holders of any series of preferred stock that our board of directors may designate and issue without any action on the part of the holders of our common stock. Furthermore, our right to participate in a distribution of assets upon any of our subsidiaries’ liquidation or reorganization is subject to the prior claims of that subsidiary’s creditors and preferred stockholders.

 

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CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus contains certain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “will” or words of similar meaning. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the outlook for our future business and financial performance, such as those contained in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Business Trends and Conditions.” Forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations and assumptions, and are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict. As a result, actual results could differ materially from those indicated in these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include global political, economic, business, competitive, market, regulatory and other factors and risks, such as:

 

    impact of macroeconomic conditions and whether industry trends we have identified develop as anticipated;

 

    retaining existing partners and attracting new partners, concentration of our platform revenue in a small number of Retail Card partners, promotion and support of our products by our partners, and financial performance of our partners;

 

    our need for additional financing, higher borrowing costs and adverse financial market conditions impacting our funding and liquidity, and any reduction in our credit ratings;

 

    our ability to securitize our loans, occurrence of an early amortization of our securitization facilities, loss of the right to service or subservice our securitized loans, and lower payment rates on our securitized loans;

 

    our reliance on dividends, distributions and other payments from the Bank;

 

    our ability to grow our deposits in the future;

 

    changes in market interest rates and the impact of any margin compression;

 

    effectiveness of our risk management processes and procedures, reliance on models which may be inaccurate or misinterpreted, our ability to manage our credit risk, the sufficiency of our allowance for loan losses and the accuracy of the assumptions or estimates used in preparing our financial statements;

 

    our ability to offset increases in our costs in retailer share arrangements;

 

    competition in the consumer finance industry;

 

    our concentration in the U.S. consumer credit market;

 

    our ability to successfully develop and commercialize new or enhanced products and services;

 

    our ability to realize the value of strategic investments;

 

    reductions in interchange fees;

 

    fraudulent activity;

 

    cyber-attacks or other security breaches;

 

    failure of third parties to provide various services that are important to our operations;

 

    disruptions in the operations of our computer systems and data centers;

 

    international risks and compliance and regulatory risks and costs associated with international operations;

 

    catastrophic events;

 

    alleged infringement of intellectual property rights of others and our ability to protect our intellectual property;

 

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    litigation and regulatory actions;

 

    damage to our reputation;

 

    our ability to attract, retain and motivate key officers and employees;

 

    tax legislation initiatives or challenges to our tax positions and state sales tax rules and regulations;

 

    significant and extensive regulation, supervision, examination and enforcement of our business by governmental authorities, the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and the impact of the CFPB’s regulation of our business;

 

    changes to our methods of offering our CareCredit products;

 

    impact of capital adequacy rules;

 

    restrictions that limit our ability to pay dividends and repurchase our capital stock and that limit the Bank’s ability to pay dividends;

 

    regulations relating to privacy, information security and data protection;

 

    use of third-party vendors and ongoing third-party business relationships;

 

    effect of GECC being subject to regulation by the Federal Reserve Board both as a savings and loan holding company and as a systematically important financial institution;

 

    GE not completing the Separation as planned or at all, and GE’s inability to obtain the GE SLHC Deregistration;

 

    Federal Reserve Board approval required for us to continue to be a savings and loan holding company, including the imposition of any significant additional capital or liquidity requirements, and Federal Reserve Board agreement required for us to be treated as a financial holding company after the GE SLHC Deregistration;

 

    our need to significantly expand many aspects of our infrastructure;

 

    loss of association with GE’s strong brand and reputation;

 

    limited right to use the GE brand name and logo and need to establish a new brand;

 

    GE has significant control over us;

 

    terms of our arrangements with GE may be more favorable than we will be able to obtain from unaffiliated third parties;

 

    obligations associated with being a public company;

 

    our incremental cost of operating as a standalone public could be substantially more than anticipated;

 

    GE could engage in businesses that compete with us, and conflicts of interest may arise between us and GE; and

 

    failure caused by us of GE’s distribution of our common stock to its stockholders in exchange for its common stock to qualify for tax-free treatment, which may result in significant tax liabilities to GE for which we may be required to indemnify GE.

See “Risk Factors” for a further description of these and other factors. For the reasons described above, we caution you against relying on any forward-looking statements, which should also be read in conjunction with the other cautionary statements that are included elsewhere in this prospectus, including in “Risk Factors.” Further, any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which the statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as otherwise may be required by law.

 

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USE OF PROCEEDS

Assuming an initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, we estimate that the net proceeds to us from the sale of our common stock in this offering will be approximately $         (or $         if the underwriters exercise in full their option to purchase additional shares of our common stock from us), after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. Each $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $         per share of our common stock, the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase (decrease) the net proceeds to us of this offering by $        , assuming that the number of shares of our common stock offered by us, as set forth on the cover of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. An increase (decrease) of              shares in the number of shares of our common stock offered by us would increase (decrease) net proceeds to us of this offering by $            , assuming the public offering price remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses.

Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into the $     billion New Bank Term Loan Facility and the $     billion New GECC Term Loan Facility.

We also currently intend to issue approximately $     billion of senior unsecured debt securities in the Planned Debt Offering shortly after the completion of this offering. We cannot assure you that the Planned Debt Offering will be completed or, if completed, on what terms it will be completed.

For a discussion of these financing transactions, see “Description of Certain Indebtedness—New Bank Term Loan Facility,” “—New GECC Term Loan Facility” and “—New Senior Notes.”

We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, together with the net proceeds from borrowings under the New Bank Term Loan Facility and the New GECC Term Loan Facility, to repay $     billion of our related party debt owed to GECC and its affiliates that is outstanding on the date of the closing of this offering (the “Outstanding Related Party Debt”), to increase our capital, to invest in liquid assets to increase the size of our liquidity portfolio, to pay fees and expenses related to the Transactions and for such additional uses as we may determine in the future. The weighted average interest rate for the year ended December 31, 2013 on the Outstanding Related Party Debt is 1.7% per annum.

We intend to use the net proceeds from the Planned Debt Offering to invest in liquid assets to further increase the size of our liquidity portfolio and to pay fees and expenses related to that offering and for such additional uses as we may determine in the future. For a discussion of the Outstanding Related Party Debt, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Funding Provided by GECC.”

The following table summarizes the estimated sources of funds and uses of funds in connection with this offering. The amounts in the tables below are based on estimated amounts and may differ from the actual amounts at the time of the consummation of this offering depending on several factors, including differences from our estimates of the amount of the Planned Debt Offering, the Outstanding Related Party Debt and fees and

 

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expenses. You should read the following together with the information included under the heading “Selected Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information” included elsewhere in this prospectus.

 

Sources of Funds ($ in millions)

    

Uses of Funds ($ in millions)

 

Common stock offered hereby

  $                Repay Outstanding Related Party Debt(1)   $            

Planned Debt Offering(2)

     Increase capital and liquidity portfolio  

New Bank Term Loan Facility

     Fees and expenses  

New GECC Term Loan Facility

      
 

 

 

      

 

 

 

Total sources of funds

  $         Total uses of funds   $     
 

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

(1) Amount reflects $     billion of Outstanding Related Party Debt at December 31, 2013.
(2) We currently intend to issue approximately $     billion of senior unsecured debt securities in the Planned Debt Offering shortly after the completion of this offering. We cannot assure you that the Planned Debt Offering will be completed or, if completed, on what terms it will be completed.

 

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DIVIDEND POLICY

Following the offering, our board of directors intends to consider our policy regarding the payment and amount of dividends. The declaration and amount of any future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on many factors, including the financial condition, earnings, capital and liquidity requirements of us and the Bank, regulatory restrictions, corporate law restrictions and other factors that the board of directors deems relevant.

As a savings and loan holding company, our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders or to repurchase our stock is subject to regulation by the Federal Reserve Board. In addition, as a holding company, we rely significantly on dividends, distribution and other payments from the Bank to fund dividends to our stockholders. The ability of the Bank to make dividends and other distributions and payments to us is subject to regulation by the OCC and the Federal Reserve Board. See “Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Business—We are a holding company and will rely significantly on dividends, distributions and other payments from the Bank” and “—Risks Relating to Regulation—We and the Bank are subject to restrictions that limit our ability to pay dividends and repurchase our capital stock.”

 

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CAPITALIZATION

Set forth below is our capitalization at December 31, 2013, on an historical and a pro forma basis, which reflects the adjustments described in more detail in the notes to the unaudited pro forma financial information under “Selected Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information.” You should read this information in conjunction with those notes, as well as “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our combined financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.

 

($ in millions)    Historical     Pro Forma  

Cash and equivalents

   $ 2,319      $                
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Deposits:

    

Interest bearing deposit accounts

   $ 25,360      $     

Non-interest bearing deposit accounts

     359     
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total deposits

   $ 25,719      $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Borrowings:(1)

    

Borrowings of consolidated securitization entities

   $ 15,362      $     

Outstanding Related Party Debt

     8,959     

New Bank Term Loan Facility

     —       

New GECC Term Loan

     —       

Planned Debt Offering(2)

     —       
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total borrowings

   $ 24,321      $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Equity:

    

Parent’s net investment(3)

   $ 5,973      $ —     

Common stock(3)

     —       

Additional paid-in capital(3)

     —       

Accumulated other comprehensive income

     (13  
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total stockholders’ equity

   $ 5,960      $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total capitalization

   $ 56,000      $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) Does not reflect $     billion of undrawn committed capacity under two of our existing securitization programs.
(2) We currently intend to issue approximately $     billion of senior unsecured debt securities in the Planned Debt Offering shortly after the completion of this offering. We cannot assure you that the Planned Debt Offering will be completed or, if completed, on what terms it will be completed.
(3) Represents the reclassification of GE’s net investment in us, which was recorded in Parent’s net investment, into Common stock and Additional paid-in capital at a par value of $0.01 per share.

 

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DILUTION

If you invest in our common stock in this offering, your ownership interest will be immediately diluted to the extent of the difference between the initial public offering price per share and the net tangible book value per share of our common stock after this offering. Dilution results from the fact that the initial public offering price per share of our common stock is substantially in excess of the net tangible book value per share of our common stock attributable to existing stockholders for our presently outstanding shares of common stock. At December 31, 2013, net tangible book value attributable to our stockholders was $        , or $         per share of common stock based on              shares of common stock issued and outstanding. Net tangible book value per share equals total consolidated tangible assets minus total consolidated liabilities divided by the number of outstanding shares of our common stock.

Our net tangible book value at December 31, 2013 would have been approximately $        , or $         per share of our common stock based on              shares of our common stock issued and outstanding after giving effect to the sale of              shares of our common stock by us at an assumed initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses.

This represents an immediate increase in the net tangible book value of $         per share to existing stockholders and an immediate dilution in the net tangible book value of $         per share to the investors who purchase our common stock in this offering.

The following table illustrates the per share dilution after giving pro forma effect to this offering:

 

Initial public offering price per share

      $                

Net tangible book value per share at December 31, 2013

   $                   

Increase in net tangible book value per share attributable to this offering

   $        
  

 

 

    

Net tangible book value per share of common stock after the offering

      $     

Dilution per share to new investors

      $     

Each $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial offering price of $         per share of our common stock would increase (decrease) the net tangible book value at December 31, 2013 by approximately $        , or approximately $         per share, and the dilution per share to new investors by approximately $        , assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We may also increase or decrease the number of shares we are offering. An increase of one million shares in the number of shares offered by us would result in net tangible book value at December 31, 2013 of approximately $        , or $         per share, and the dilution per share to investors in this offering would be $         per share, assuming the public offering price per share remains the same. Similarly, a decrease of one million shares in the number of shares of common stock offered by us would result in net tangible book value at December 31, 2013 of approximately $        , or $         per share, and the dilution per share to investors in this offering would be $         per share. The information discussed above is illustrative only and will adjust based on the actual public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing.

 

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The following table summarizes, at December 31, 2013 (giving pro forma effect to the sale by us of              shares of our common stock in this offering), the difference between existing stockholders and new investors with respect to the number of shares of our common stock purchased from us, the total consideration paid to us for these shares, and the average price per share paid by our existing stockholders and to be paid by the new investors in this offering. The calculation below reflecting the effect of shares purchased by new investors is based on the initial public offering price of $         per share, the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

 

     Shares Purchased     Total Consideration     Average Price
Per Share
 
     Number    Percent     Number    Percent    

Existing stockholders

                           $                

New investors

            

Total

        100.0        100.0  

Each $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial offering price of $         per share of common stock would increase (decrease) the total consideration paid by new investors by approximately $        , or the percent of total consideration paid by new investors by approximately     %, assuming that the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting the underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. We may also increase or decrease the number of shares we are offering. An increase (decrease) of shares in the number of              shares offered by us increase (decrease) the total consideration paid by new investors by approximately $        , or the percent of total consideration paid by new investors by approximately     %, assuming the public offering price per share remains the same. The information discussed above is illustrative only and will adjust based on the actual public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing.

The number of shares purchased is based on shares of our common stock outstanding at December 31, 2013. The discussion and table above exclude shares of our common stock issuable upon exercise of outstanding options issued. If the underwriters were to fully exercise their option to purchase additional shares of our common stock from us, the percentage of shares of our common stock held by existing stockholders would be     %, and the percentage of shares of our common stock held by new investors would be     %. To the extent any outstanding options are exercised, new investors will experience further dilution. To the extent all              outstanding options had been exercised at December 31, 2013, the net tangible book value per share after this offering would be $         and total dilution per share to new investors would be $        .

 

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SELECTED HISTORICAL AND PRO FORMA FINANCIAL INFORMATION

The following table sets forth selected historical combined and unaudited pro forma financial information. The selected historical combined financial information at December 31, 2013 and 2012, and for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011 has been derived from our historical combined financial statements, which have been audited by KPMG LLP and are included elsewhere in this prospectus. The selected historical combined financial information at December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009, and for the years ended December 31, 2010 and 2009 is unaudited and has been derived from our historical combined financial information not included in the prospectus. The selected unaudited pro forma financial information at and for the year ended December 31, 2013 is unaudited and has been derived from our unaudited pro forma financial statements. You should read this information in conjunction with the information under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our historical combined financial statements and the related notes thereto, which are included elsewhere in this prospectus.

Synchrony is a holding company for the legal entities that historically conducted GE’s North American retail finance business. Synchrony was incorporated in Delaware on September 12, 2003, but prior to April 1, 2013, conducted no business. During the period from April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013, as part of a regulatory restructuring, substantially all of the assets and operations of GE’s North American retail finance business, including the Bank, were transferred to Synchrony. The remaining assets and operations of that business have been or will be transferred to Synchrony prior to the completion of this offering.

We have prepared our historical combined financial statements as if Synchrony had conducted GE’s North American retail finance business throughout all relevant periods. Our historical combined financial information and statements include the assets, liabilities and operations of GE’s North American retail finance business.

The unaudited pro forma information set forth below reflects our historical combined financial information, as adjusted to give effect to the following Transactions as if each had occurred at January 1, 2013, in the case of statements of earnings information, and December 31, 2013, in the case of statements of financial position information:

 

    issuance of              million shares of our common stock at an estimated offering price of $         per share (the midpoint of the price range set forth on the front cover of this prospectus);

 

    repayment of the $     billion of Outstanding Related Party Debt (as defined under “Use of Proceeds”);

 

    entering into of, and costs associated with, the New Bank Term Loan Facility and the New GECC Term Loan Facility;

 

    completion of, and costs associated with, the Planned Debt Offering;

 

    investment in liquid assets to further increase the size of our liquidity portfolio consistent with our liquidity and funding policies; and

 

    issuance of a founders’ grant of restricted stock units and stock options to certain employees under the Synchrony 2014 Long-Term Incentive Plan.

The unaudited pro forma financial information is for illustrative and informational purposes only and is not intended to represent what our financial condition or results of operations would have been had the Transactions occurred on the dates indicated. The unaudited pro forma information also should not be considered representative of our future financial condition or results of operations.

The unaudited pro forma information below is based upon available information and assumptions that we believe are reasonable, that reflect the expected impacts of events that are directly attributable to the Transactions, that are factually supportable and in connection with earnings information are expected to have a continuing impact on us.

 

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Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into a number of arrangements with GE governing the Separation and a variety of transition matters. Except as described in the notes above, we have not reflected any adjustments for the estimated effects of these arrangements, which are described under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Separation from GE and Related Financial Arrangements.”

In addition to the pro forma adjustments to our historical combined financial statements, various other factors will have an effect on our financial condition and results of operations after the completion of this offering, including those discussed under “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

For information with respect to certain items that are not reflected in the pro forma financial information, see note (i) to the unaudited pro forma financial information below.

Condensed Combined Statements of Earnings Information

 

    Pro Forma     Historical(1)  
    Year Ended
December 31,
    Years Ended December 31,  
($ in millions)   2013     2013     2012     2011     2010(2)     2009  

Interest income

  $        $ 11,313      $ 10,309      $ 9,141      $ 8,760      $ 4,636   

Interest expense

      742        745        932        1,094        830   
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income

      10,571        9,564        8,209        7,666        3,806   

Retailer share arrangements

      (2,362     (1,975     (1,430     (989     (799
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements

      8,209        7,589        6,779        6,677        3,007   

Provision for loan losses

      3,072        2,565        2,258        3,151        2,883   
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements and provision for loan losses

      5,137        5,024        4,521        3,526        124   

Other income

      488        473        498        481        2,550   

Other expense

      2,483        2,121        2,009        1,978        1,979   
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Earnings before provision for income taxes

      3,142        3,376        3,010        2,029        695   

Provision for income taxes

      (1,163     (1,257     (1,120     (760     (294
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net earnings

  $                   $     1,979      $     2,119      $     1,890      $     1,269      $       401   
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Weighted average shares outstanding (in thousands)

           

Basic

           

Diluted

           

Earnings per share

           

Basic

           

Diluted

           

 

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Condensed Combined Statements of Financial Position Information

 

     Pro Forma      Historical  
     At
December 31,
     At December 31,  
($ in millions)    2013      2013     2012     2011     2010(2)     2009  

Assets:

  

Cash and equivalents

   $                    $ 2,319      $ 1,334      $ 1,187      $ 219      $ 572   

Investment securities

        236        193        198        116        7,261   

Loan receivables

        57,254        52,313        47,741        45,230        22,912   

Allowance for loan losses

        (2,892     (2,274     (2,052     (2,362     (1,654

Goodwill

        949        936        936        938        938   

Intangible assets, net

        300        255        252        227        396   

Other assets

        919        705        1,853        4,438        7,163   

Assets of discontinued operations

        —          —          —          1,847        3,092   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total assets

        59,085        53,462        50,115        50,653        40,680   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Liabilities and Equity:

             

Total deposits

        25,719        18,804        17,832        13,798        11,609   

Total borrowings

        24,321        27,815        25,890        30,936        18,069   

Accrued expenses and other liabilities

        3,085        2,261        2,065        1,600        6,192   

Liabilities of discontinued operations

        —          —          —          13        6   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities

        53,125        48,880        45,787        46,347        35,876   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total equity

        5,960        4,582        4,328        4,306        4,804   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities and equity

   $         $ 59,085      $ 53,462      $ 50,115      $ 50,653      $ 40,680   
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) In 2011, we completed the sale of a discontinued business operation. See Note 3. Acquisition and Dispositions to our combined financial statements. The selected earnings information presented above is of continuing operations.
(2) On January 1, 2010, we adopted FASB Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 810, Consolidation, and began consolidating our securitization entities. In 2009, we recognized gains on the sale of loan receivables to the securitization entities and earnings on retained interests which are included in other income within our Combined Statements of Earnings. The adoption of ASC 810, Consolidation on January 1, 2010 resulted in an increase to our total assets of $13.8 billion and an increase to our total liabilities of $15.2 billion. The increase in total assets primarily included an increase in loan receivables of $24.0 billion, but was partially offset by an increase in the allowance for loan losses of $1.6 billion and a decrease in investment securities of $7.2 billion. The increase in total liabilities primarily included an increase in borrowings of $18.8 billion.

 

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Other Financial and Statistical Data

 

     Pro Forma(1)     Historical  
     Year Ended
December 31,
    Years Ended December 31,  
($ in millions, except per account data)    2013     2013     2012     2011  

Financial Position Data (Average):

  

Loan receivables

   $        $ 52,407      $ 47,549      $ 44,131   

Total assets

   $        $ 56,184      $ 49,905      $ 46,218   

Deposits

   $        $ 22,911      $ 17,514      $ 15,442   

Borrowings

   $        $ 25,209      $ 25,304      $ 24,687   

Total equity

   $        $ 5,121      $ 4,764      $ 4,009   

Selected Performance Metrics:

        

Purchase volume(2)

   $ 93,858      $ 93,858      $ 85,901      $ 77,883   

Average active accounts (in thousands)(3)

     56,253        56,253        53,021        51,313   

Average purchase volume per active account

   $ 1,668      $ 1,668      $ 1,620      $ 1,518   

Average loan receivables balance per active account

   $ 932      $ 932      $ 897      $ 860   

Net interest margin(4)

           18.8     19.7     18.4

Net charge-offs

   $ 2,454      $ 2,454      $ 2,343      $ 2,560   

Net charge-offs as a % of average loan receivables

     4.7     4.7     4.9     5.8

Allowance coverage ratio(5)

     5.1     5.1     4.3     4.3

Return on assets(6)

           3.5     4.2     4.1

Return on equity(7)

           38.6     44.5     47.1

Equity to assets(8)

           9.1     9.5     8.7

Other expense as a % of average loan receivables

           4.7     4.5     4.6

Efficiency ratio(9)

           28.6     26.3     27.6

Effective income tax rate

     37.0     37.0     37.2     37.2

Capital Ratios for the Bank(10):

        

Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio

           16.0     13.8     13.3

Total risk-based capital ratio

           17.3     15.1     14.5

Tier 1 leverage ratio

           14.9     17.2     16.0

Capital Ratios for the Company(11):

        

Tier 1 common ratio

           —          —          —     

Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio

           —          —          —     

Total risk-based capital ratio

           —          —          —     

Tier 1 leverage ratio

           —          —          —     

Selected Period End Data:

        

Total loan receivables

   $ 57,254      $ 57,254      $ 52,313      $ 47,741   

Allowance for loan losses

   $ 2,892      $ 2,892      $ 2,274      $ 2,052   

30+ days past due as a % of loan receivables

     4.3     4.3     4.6     4.9

90+ days past due as a % of loan receivables

     2.0     2.0     2.0     2.2

Total active accounts (in thousands)(3)

     61,957        61,957        57,099        56,605   

Other Information:

        

Full time employees

     9,333        9,333        8,447        8,203   

Interest and fees on loans

   $ 11,295      $ 11,295      $ 10,300      $ 9,134   

Other income

     488        488        473        498   

Retailer share arrangements

     (2,362     (2,362     (1,975     (1,430
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Platform revenue(12)

   $ 9,421      $ 9,421      $ 8,798      $ 8,202   

 

(1) The unaudited pro forma financial information for Financial Position Data (Average) and Selected Performance Metrics give effect to the Transactions as if they had occurred as of January 1, 2013 for amounts calculated using average financial position data.

 

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(2) Purchase volume, or net credit sales, represents the aggregate amount of charges incurred on credit cards or other credit product accounts less returns during the period.
(3) Active accounts represent credit card or installment loan accounts on which there has been a purchase, payment or outstanding balance in the current month. Open accounts represent credit card or installment loan accounts that are not closed, blocked or more than 60 days delinquent.
(4) Net interest margin represents net interest income divided by average interest earning assets.
(5) Allowance coverage ratio represents allowance for loan losses divided by total end-of-period loan receivables.
(6) Return on assets represents net earnings as a percentage of average total assets.
(7) Return on equity represents net earnings as a percentage of average total equity.
(8) Equity to assets represents average equity as a percentage of average total assets.
(9) Efficiency ratio represents (i) other expense, divided by (ii) net interest income, after retailer share arrangements, plus other income.
(10) Represent Basel I capital ratios calculated for the Bank.
(11) Represent Basel I capital ratios calculated for the Company on a pro forma basis. At December 31, 2013, pro forma for the Transactions, the Company had a fully phased-in Basel III Tier 1 common ratio of         %. The Company’s pro forma capital ratios are non-GAAP measures. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Capital.”
(12) Platform revenue is a non-GAAP measure. The table sets forth each component of our platform revenue for the periods presented. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations—Platform Analysis.”

 

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Unaudited Pro Forma Financial Information

Condensed Combined Statements of Earnings Information

 

     Year ended December 31, 2013  
($ in millions, except per share data)    Historical     Pro Forma
Adjustments
     Notes     Pro
Forma
 

Interest and fees on loans

   $ 11,295      $                $                

Interest on investment securities

     18           (b  
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Total interest income

     11,313          
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Interest on deposits

     374          

Interest on borrowings of consolidated securitization entities

     211          

Interest on third-party debt

     —             (c  

Interest on related party debt

     157           (c)/(d  
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Total interest expense

     742          
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Net interest income

     10,571          
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Retailer share arrangements

     (2,362       
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements

     8,209          
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Provision for loan losses

     3,072          
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements and provision for loan losses

     5,137          
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Other income

     488          

Other expense

     2,483           (e  
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Earnings (loss) before provision for income taxes

     3,142          
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Provision for income taxes

     (1,163        (f  
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Net earnings

   $ 1,979      $           $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

      

 

 

 

Weighted average shares outstanding (in thousands)

         

Basic

          (i  

Diluted

          (i  

Earnings per share

         

Basic

          (i  

Diluted

          (i  

 

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Condensed Combined Statements of Financial Position Information

 

     At December 31, 2013  
($ in millions)    Historical     Pro Forma
Adjustments
       Notes     Pro
Forma
 

Assets:

           

Cash and equivalents(a)

   $ 2,319      $                        (b)/(c)/(d)/(g   $                

Investment securities

     236            

Loan receivables

           

Unsecuritized loans held for investment

     31,183            

Restricted loans of consolidated securitization entities

     26,071            
  

 

 

          

 

 

 

Total loan receivables

     57,254            
  

 

 

          

 

 

 

Less: Allowance for loan losses

     (2,892         
  

 

 

          

 

 

 

Loan receivables, net

     54,362            
  

 

 

          

 

 

 

Goodwill

     949            

Intangible assets, net

     300            

Other assets

     919            
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Total assets

   $ 59,085      $             $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Liabilities and Equity:

           

Deposits:

           

Interest bearing deposit accounts

     25,360            

Non-interest bearing deposit accounts

     359            
  

 

 

          

 

 

 

Total deposits

     25,719            
  

 

 

          

 

 

 

Borrowings:

           

Borrowings of consolidated securitization entities

     15,362            

Related party debt

     8,959             (c)/(d  

Third-party debt

     —               (c  
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Total borrowings

     24,321            
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Accrued expenses and other liabilities

     3,085            
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Total liabilities

   $ 53,125      $             $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Equity:

           

Common stock, par share value $         per share (             shares outstanding)

     —               (g  

Additional paid-in capital

     —               (h  

Parent’s net investment

     5,973             (h     —     

Accumulated other comprehensive income

     (13         
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Total equity

     5,960            
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

Total liabilities and equity

   $ 59,085      $             $     
  

 

 

   

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

Notes to unaudited pro forma financial information

(a) Cash and equivalents includes $216 million of cash in transit which is excluded for the purpose of calculating liquidity.

 

(b)

Reflects an increase in assets in our liquidity portfolio from $2.1 billion to $         billion. It is expected that our liquidity portfolio will consist of cash and equivalents (primarily in the form of deposits with the Federal Reserve Board), debt obligations of the U.S. Treasury, certain securities issued by U.S. government sponsored enterprises and other highly rated and highly liquid assets. For purposes of the pro forma financial information we have assumed that assets contained in the liquidity portfolio will consist entirely of cash and equivalents. Interest on investment securities includes interest

 

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  on interest-bearing cash and equivalents. The adjustment for incremental interest income reflects the increase in interest income generated by additional cash and equivalents in this liquidity portfolio at an interest rate of        basis points per annum, which is estimated using three month U.S. Treasury bills. An increase (decrease) in the interest rate of 0.125% would increase (decrease) pro forma interest income by $         million for the year ended December 31, 2013.

 

(c) Reflects an adjustment to record $         billion of new borrowings in connection with this offering, additional borrowing commitments and related interest expense at an estimated weighted average interest rate of         % per annum, as follows:

 

  (1) Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into the $         billion New GECC Term Loan Facility. The New GECC Term Loan Facility matures in 2019, but we will have the option to prepay the New GECC Term Loan Facility in part or in full at any time prior to that date.
  (2) Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into the $         billion New Bank Term Loan Facility with third-party lenders. The New Bank Term Loan Facility matures in 2019, but we will have the option to prepay the New Bank Term Loan Facility in part or in full at any time prior to that date.
  (3) Shortly after the completion of this offering, we plan to issue approximately $         billion of New Senior Notes under the Planned Debt Offering.
  (4) Prior to the completion of this offering, we expect to enter into agreements providing us with an aggregate of approximately $         billion of undrawn committed capacity from private lenders under two of our existing securitization programs, the commitment fees for which are included in the adjustment to interest expense.

The proceeds of the new borrowings will be used to repay $     billion of the Outstanding Related Party Debt, to increase our capital, to invest in liquid assets to increase the size of our liquidity portfolio, to pay fees and expenses related to the Transactions and for such additional uses as we may determine in the future.

An increase (decrease) in the weighted average interest rate of 0.125% per annum would increase (decrease) pro forma interest expense related to our new borrowings by $         million for the year ended December 31, 2013.

 

(d) Represents the repayment of approximately $         billion of Outstanding Related Party Debt at December 31, 2013. The weighted average interest rate for the year ended December 31, 2013 on the Outstanding Related Party Debt was 1.7% per annum. The amount to be repaid will be the actual amount of Outstanding Related Party Debt on the closing date of this offering.

 

(e) Represents an estimated $         million of incremental compensation expense per year related to the issuance of a founders’ grant of restricted stock units and stock options for certain key employees in connection with this offering. The grant will vest after a four-year period so long as the employee continues to be employed at time of vesting to be eligible.

 

(f) Reflects an adjustment to record the tax impact of other pro forma earnings adjustments at a tax rate of 37.3%.

 

(g) Represents the net increase in cash and equity of $         billion from the proceeds of this offering based on an assumed initial public offering price of $         per share (the midpoint of the price range set forth on the front cover of this prospectus), assuming the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of common stock from us is not exercised, and less assumed underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses.

 

(h) Represents the reclassification of GE’s net investment in us, which was recorded in Parent’s net investment, into Common stock and Additional paid-in capital at a par value of $0.01 per share.

 

(i) Basic and diluted earnings per share and the weighted average shares outstanding for the pro forma earnings per share calculation included in our unaudited pro forma Combined Statements of Earnings are calculated as follows:

 

December 31, 2013 ($ in millions, except per share data)    Basic    Diluted

Pro forma net earnings

     

Common stock

     

Restricted stock units

     

Stock options(1)

     

Pro forma shares outstanding

     

Pro forma earnings per share

     

 

     (1) Reflects         million shares of common stock available under stock options based on the treasury stock method.

 

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(j) We have not reflected any adjustments in our unaudited pro forma combined financial information for the following:

 

  (1) GE and its subsidiaries, including GECC, historically have provided a variety of services to us, including direct costs associated with services provided directly to us and indirect costs related to GE corporate overhead allocation and assessment. Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into a number of arrangements with GE governing the Separation and a variety of transition matters. We expect that GE will continue to provide us with some of the services related to certain functions on a transitional basis in exchange for agreed-upon fees, and we expect to incur other costs to replace the services and resources that will not be provided by GE. We currently expect to incur significant additional expenses to operate as a fully independent public company. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Business Trends and Conditions—Increases in operating expenses following this offering” and “—Separation from GE and Related Financial Arrangements.”

 

  (2) We expect increased payments to partners under our recently extended retailer share arrangements and increased other expense, primarily marketing and other expenses dedicated to promoting the extended programs. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Increases of payments under extended program agreements.”

 

  (3) We will transition to our benefit plans under the employee matters agreement we will enter into with GE prior to the completion of this offering. Effective as of the date that GE ceases to own at least 50% of our outstanding common stock, our applicable U.S. employees will cease to participate in the GE plans and will participate in employee benefit plans established and maintained by us. For at least the one-year period following the date that GE ceases to own at least 50% of our outstanding common stock, we will maintain plans that will provide our employees with benefits that are comparable in the aggregate to the value of those benefits provided by the GE plans. See “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company—Relationship with GE and GECC—Employee Matters Agreement” for further description of these matters.

 

  (4) We have not reflected any adjustments for the expense related to transitioning earned benefit from equity awards granted to employees under GE stock options and restricted stock units and stock options to be issued under our long-term incentive plan. In connection with the completion of this offering, we will establish equity compensation plans pursuant to which we will issue restricted stock units and stock options to purchase         million shares of our common stock with an exercise price equal to the initial offering price pursuant to “founders’ grants” under the Synchrony 2014 Long-Term Incentive Plan. See “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company—Relationship with GE and GECC—Employee Matters Agreement” for further description of these matters.

 

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MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our combined financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus. The discussion below contains forward-looking statements that are based upon current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from these expectations. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”

Introduction

Business Overview

We are one of the premier consumer financial services companies in the United States. We provide a range of credit products through programs we have established with a diverse group of national and regional retailers, local merchants, manufacturers, buying groups, industry associations and healthcare service providers, which we refer to as our “partners.” During 2013, we financed $93.9 billion of sales, and at December 31, 2013, we had $57.3 billion of loan receivables and 62.0 million active accounts. For the year ended December 31, 2013, we had net earnings of $2.0 billion, representing a return on assets of 3.5%. See “Summary Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information” for return on assets, return on equity and equity to assets ratios.

We offer our credit products primarily through our wholly-owned subsidiary, the Bank. Through the Bank, we offer a range of direct and brokered deposit products insured by the FDIC. We are expanding our direct banking operations to increase our deposit base as a source of stable and diversified low cost funding for our credit activities. We had $25.7 billion in deposits at December 31, 2013.

Our Sales Platforms

We conduct our operations through a single business segment and offer our products through three sales platforms (Retail Card, Payment Solutions and CareCredit). Those platforms are organized by the types of products we offer and the partners we work with, and are measured on platform revenues, loan receivables, new accounts and other sales metrics.

Retail Card. Retail Card is a leading provider of private label credit cards, and also provides Dual Cards and small and medium-sized business credit products. At December 31, 2013, Retail Card offered these products through programs with 24 national and regional retailers that collectively have 34,000 locations. Retail Card’s platform revenue consists of interest and fees on our loan receivables, plus other income, less retailer share arrangements. Other income primarily consists of interchange fees earned on Dual Card transactions (when the card is used outside of our partners’ sales channels) and fees paid to us by customers who purchase our debt cancellation products, less loyalty program payments. Substantially all of the credit extended in this platform is on standard terms. Retail Card accounted for $6.4 billion, or 68.0%, of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013.

Payment Solutions. Payment Solutions is a leading provider of promotional financing for major consumer purchases, offering primarily private label credit cards and installment loans. At December 31, 2013, Payment Solutions offered these products through 252 programs with national and regional retailers, manufacturers, buying groups and industry associations, and a total of 61,000 participating partners. Substantially all of the credit extended in this platform is promotional financing. Payment Solutions’ platform revenue primarily consists of interest and fees on our loan receivables, including “merchant discounts,” which are fees paid to us by our partners in almost all cases to compensate us for all or part of foregone interest revenue associated with promotional financing. Payment Solutions accounted for $1.5 billion, or 16.0%, of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013.

 

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CareCredit. CareCredit is a leading provider of promotional financing to consumers for elective healthcare procedures or services, such as dental, veterinary, cosmetic, vision and audiology. At December 31, 2013, we had a network of 149,000 CareCredit providers, the vast majority of which are individual or small groups of independent healthcare providers, through which we offer a CareCredit branded private label credit card. Substantially all of the credit extended in this platform is promotional financing. CareCredit’s platform revenue primarily consists of interest and fees on our loan receivables, including merchant discounts. CareCredit accounted for $1.5 billion, or 16.0%, of total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013.

Our Credit Products

Through our platforms, we offer three principal types of credit products: credit cards, commercial credit products and consumer installment loans.

The following table sets forth each credit product by type (and within credit cards, by private label and Dual Cards) and indicates the percentage of our total loan receivables that are under standard terms or pursuant to a promotional financing offer at December 31, 2013.

 

Credit Product

   Standard Terms     Promotional Offer     Total  

Private label credit cards

     45.7     27.9     73.6

Dual Cards

     22.2        0.2        22.4   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total credit cards

     67.9        28.1        96.0   

Commercial credit products

     2.3        —          2.3   

Consumer installment loans

     —          1.7        1.7   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total

       70.2       29.8     100.0
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Credit Cards. We offer two principal types of credit cards: private label credit cards and Dual Cards:

 

    Private label credit cards. Private label credit cards are partner-branded credit cards (e.g., Lowe’s or Amazon) or program-branded credit cards (e.g., CarCareONE or CareCredit) that are used primarily for the purchase of goods and services from the partner or within the program network. In Retail Card, credit under our private label credit cards typically is extended on standard terms only, and in Payment Solutions and CareCredit, credit under our private label credit cards typically is extended pursuant to a promotional financing offer.

 

    Dual Cards. Our proprietary Dual Cards are credit cards that function as a private label credit card when used to purchase goods and services from our partners and as a general purpose credit card when used elsewhere. Credit extended under our Dual Cards typically is extended under standard terms only. Currently, only Retail Card offers Dual Cards. At December 31, 2013, we offered Dual Cards through 18 of our 24 Retail Card programs.

Commercial Credit Products. We offer private label cards and co-branded cards for commercial customers that are similar to our consumer offerings. We also offer a commercial pay-in-full accounts receivable product to a wide range of business customers, and are rolling out an improved customer experience for this product with enhanced functionality. We offer commercial credit products primarily through our Retail Card platform to the commercial customers of our Retail Card partners.

Installment Loans. In Payment Solutions, we originate installment loans to consumers (and a limited number of commercial customers) in the United States, primarily in the power segment. Installment loans are closed-end credit accounts where the customer pays down the outstanding balance in installments. Installment loans are assessed periodic finance charges using fixed interest rates.

 

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Business Trends and Conditions

We believe our business and results of operations will be impacted in the future by various trends and conditions, including the following:

 

    Growth in loan receivables and interest income. We believe continuing improvement in the U.S. economy and employment rates will contribute to an increase in consumer credit spending. In addition, we expect the use of credit cards to continue to increase versus other forms of payment such as cash and checks. We anticipate that these trends, combined with our marketing and partner engagement strategies, will contribute to growth in our loan receivables. In the near-to-medium term, we expect our total interest income to continue to grow, driven by the expected growth in average loan receivables. We do not expect to make any significant changes to customer pricing or merchant discount pricing in the near term, and therefore we expect yields generated from interest and fees on interest-earning assets will remain relatively stable.

 

    Changing funding mix and increased funding costs. Our primary funding sources historically have included direct deposits, brokered deposits, securitized financings and related party debt provided by GECC. Following this offering, we expect to add third-party credit facilities, unsecured debt financing and transitional funding from GECC as funding sources. Over time we expect to raise additional unsecured debt financing and increase our level of direct deposits to refinance the transitional funding provided by GECC and support growth in our business. We expect the following factors to impact our funding costs:

 

    continued growth in our direct deposits as a source of stable and low cost funding;

 

    a significant increase in the amount of debt outstanding to fund an increase in the size of our liquidity portfolio;

 

    the changing mix in our funding sources, as existing related party debt is replaced by higher cost funding provided by third-party credit facilities, unsecured debt financing and transitional funding from GECC; and

 

    a changing interest rate environment.

As a result of these factors, we expect our funding costs in the aggregate following this offering to increase. Pro forma for the Transactions, at December 31, 2013 our debt outstanding would have increased by approximately $             billion, and for the year ended December 31, 2013, our interest expense would have increased by $             million, and our cost of funds would have increased by approximately          basis points to         %. See “Selected Historical and Pro Forma Financial Information—Unaudited Pro Forma Financial Information.”

 

    Extended duration of program agreements. Since January 1, 2012, we have extended the duration of 21 of our 40 largest program agreements. As a result, we expect to continue to benefit from these programs on a long-term basis as indicated by the following expiration schedule, which indicates for each period the number of programs scheduled to expire and the platform revenue and loan receivables that these programs accounted for at and for the year ended December 31, 2013.

 

    Scheduled Program Expiration 
at the Date Hereof
 
($ in millions)       2014             2015             2016             2017-18             2019-2020         2021 and
    beyond    
 

40 largest programs

    7        2        9        12        6        4   

Platform revenue (for the year ended December 31, 2013)

  $ 465      $ 128      $ 1,270      $ 1,072      $ 2,574      $ 1,547   

Loan receivables (at December 31, 2013)

  $ 3,309      $ 869      $ 10,896      $ 6,807      $ 13,130      $ 10,502   

 

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Based on discussions to date with one of our 40 largest programs, we do not expect the program agreement with that partner to be extended beyond its contractual expiration date in 2014. This program agreement represented 0.6% of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013 and 0.5% of our total loan receivables at December 31, 2013. In addition, based on discussions to date with another of our top 40 programs, PayPal, we expect to extend our program agreement for two years beyond its current contractual expiration date in 2014. The extension is also expected to eliminate certain exclusivity provisions that exist in the current program agreement which we expect will result in lower platform revenue and loan receivables from our PayPal program during the remaining term of the agreement. The PayPal program agreement represented 3.1% of our total platform revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013 and 2.6% of our total loan receivables at December 31, 2013. The table above reflects the expected extended PayPal term.

 

    Increases in retailer share arrangement payments and other expense under extended program agreements. We believe that as a result of both the overall growth of our programs generally as well as amendments we have made to the terms of certain program agreements that we extended during 2013 and to date in 2014, the payments we make to our partners under our retailer share arrangements, in the aggregate are likely to increase both in absolute terms and as a percentage of our net earnings. In addition, under the terms of certain program agreements we have recently extended, we have agreed to dedicate increased marketing expense and other investments to promote these programs, which will result in an increase in other expense.

We also expect to benefit from these increased payments and other expenses, as they will create additional incentives for our partners to support their programs and, in the case of increased marketing expense and other investments, directly promote these programs, all of which we expect will have a positive impact on purchase volume and result in higher loan receivables and increased interest and fees on loans. We also expect to benefit from the extended duration of our amended program agreements.

 

    Stable asset quality and enhancements to allowance for loan loss methodology. Our credit performance continued to improve through 2013. Our net charge-off rates decreased from 4.9% for the year ended December 31, 2012 to 4.7% for the year ended December 31, 2013 and our over-30 day delinquency rate decreased from 4.6% at December 31, 2012 to 4.3% at December 31, 2013, which are both below pre-crisis levels. In the near term, we expect the U.S. employment rate to continue to stabilize, and we do not anticipate making significant changes to our underwriting standards. Accordingly, we expect our charge-off rates to remain relatively stable.

During 2012 and 2013, we enhanced our methodology for determining our allowance for loan losses, and as a result we recognized incremental provisions of $343 million and $642 million in 2012 and 2013, respectively. We continuously review and evaluate our methodology and models, and we will implement further enhancements or changes to them, as needed.

 

    Increases in other expense to operate as a fully independent company. We currently estimate incremental other expense of approximately $         million to $         million per year in order to operate as a fully independent public company. We expect that the largest component of this increase will be a $90 million to $100 million increase in our annual advertising and marketing expense to establish a new brand identity and support the growth of our direct banking operations. Other components of this increase include significant increases in our information technology, compliance, regulatory and risk infrastructure that is necessary to enable us to operate as a fully standalone company. We expect this incremental increase in our annual run rate of other expense to be fully incurred over a two-year period after giving effect to anticipated savings from the reductions in corporate allocations by GE and transitional service payments to GE following the Separation.

In addition to the increase in other expense described above, and unrelated to the Separation we also expect the variable component of our other expense to increase in absolute terms in line with the growth of our business.

 

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    Increased capital and liquidity levels. We expect to maintain sufficient capital and liquidity resources to support our daily operations, our business growth, our credit ratings as well as regulatory and compliance requirements in a cost effective and prudent manner through expected and unexpected market environments. As part of our capital plan, our board of directors intends to consider a policy for paying dividends, and, as appropriate, in the future may consider stock repurchases. We are targeting capital ratios in excess of regulatory requirements. At December 31, 2013, pro forma for the Transactions, the Company had a fully phased-in Basel III Tier 1 common ratio of         %.

In addition, to manage liquidity following this offering, we will significantly increase the size of our liquidity portfolio, which will consist of cash and equivalents (primarily in the form of deposits with the Federal Reserve Board), debt obligations of the U.S. Treasury, certain securities issued by U.S. government sponsored enterprises and other highly rated and highly liquid assets. At December 31, 2013, pro forma for the Transactions, we would have a liquidity portfolio with $         billion of assets (or         % of total assets), which will be funded by increased debt as described above and the proceeds of this offering. We expect that following the completion of the Transactions, our liquidity portfolio will continue to grow as a result of anticipated increases in our deposits, and will represent more than         % of total assets at June 30, 2014.

 

    Impact of regulatory developments. For the year ended December 31, 2013, our other expense included a $133 million increase in our consumer regulatory expenses (primarily an increase to our reserves for consumer regulatory matters, including $34.1 million related to the CareCredit CFPB settlement). For a discussion of ongoing discussions with the CFPB concerning certain other regulatory matters, see “Risk Factors—The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a new agency, and there continues to be uncertainty as to how the agency’s actions will impact our business; the agency’s actions have had and may continue to have an adverse impact on our business” and “Risk Factors—Risks Relating to our Business—“Litigation and regulatory actions could subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments and/or requirements resulting in increased expenses.”

Separation from GE and Related Financial Arrangements

GE and its subsidiaries, including GECC, historically have provided a variety of services and funding to us. Prior to the completion of this offering, we will enter into a transitional services agreement and various other agreements with GE that, together with a number of existing agreements relating to our securitized financings that will remain in effect following this offering, will govern the relationship between GE and us after this offering. We will also enter into the New GECC Term Loan Facility, pursuant to which GECC will provide us with transitional funding. The principal financial implications of these arrangements are discussed below, and the arrangements are described more fully under “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company” and “Description of Certain Indebtedness—New GECC Term Loan Facility.”

The historical costs and expenses related to these services and funding provided by GE include:

 

    direct costs associated with services provided directly to us;

 

    indirect costs related to GE corporate overhead allocation and assessments; and

 

    interest expense for related party debt.

 

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The following table sets forth our direct costs, indirect costs, and interest expenses related to services and funding provided by GE for the periods indicated.

 

Years ended December 31, ($ in millions)    2013      2012      2011  

Direct costs(1)

   $ 207       $ 184       $ 181   

Indirect costs(1)

     230         206         183   

Interest expense(2)

     157         155         333   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total expenses for services and funding provided by GE

   $ 594       $ 545       $ 697   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Direct costs and indirect costs are included in the other expense line items in our Combined Statements of Earnings.
(2) Included in the interest expense line item in our Combined Statements of Earnings.

Direct Costs. Certain functions and services, such as employee benefits and insurance, are centralized at GE. In addition, certain third-party contracts for goods and services, such as technology licenses and telecommunication contracts, from which we benefit are entered into by GE. GE allocates the costs associated with these goods and services to us using established allocation methodologies (e.g., pension costs are allocated using an actuarially determined percentage applied to the total compensation of employees who participate in such pension plans). For the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, we recorded $207 million, $184 million and $181 million, respectively, related to these costs from GE. Below is a description of the services resulting in the most significant direct costs, and how those services will be impacted by the Separation.

 

    Employee benefits and benefit administration. Historically, we have reimbursed GE for benefits provided to our employees under various U.S. GE employee benefit plans, including costs associated with our employees’ participation in GE’s retirement plans (pension, retiree health and life insurance, and savings benefit plans) and active health and life insurance benefit plans. We incurred expenses (including administrative costs) associated with these plans of $129 million, $110 million and $110 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. GE will continue to provide these benefits to our employees at our cost as long as GE owns at least 50% of our outstanding common stock. See “Arrangements Among GE, GECC and Our Company” and Note 11. Employee Benefit Plans to our combined financial statements.

 

    Information technology. GE provides us with certain information technology infrastructure (e.g., data centers), applications and support services. We have incurred $32 million, $30 million and $31 million for these services for the years ending December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively.

 

    Telecommunication costs. GE provides us with telecommunication services. These third-party costs are allocated to our business based on the number of phone lines used by our business. We have incurred $33 million, $34 million and $33 million for this service for the years ending December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively.

 

    Other including leases for vehicles, equipment and facilities. GE and GE affiliates provide us with certain vehicle and equipment leases. In addition, we have certain facilities shared with GE and GE affiliates for which we are allocated our share of the cost based on space occupied by our business and employees. We have incurred $13 million, $10 million and $7 million for the years ending December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively.

In addition to the allocations for the direct costs of the described services, GE makes payments on our behalf for payroll for our employees, corporate credit card bills and freight expenses through a centralized payment system, and we will reimburse GE in full for amounts paid. These payments are not included above.

We expect that under the transitional services agreement, direct costs billed to us after the completion of this offering will be at GE’s cost in accordance with historic allocation methodologies. We expect the majority of the services provided by GE will be replaced within two years from the completion of this offering.

 

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Indirect Costs. GE and GECC allocate costs to us related to corporate overhead that directly or indirectly benefits our business. These assessments relate to information technology, insurance coverage, tax services provided, executive incentive payments, advertising and branding and other functional support. These allocations are determined primarily using our percentage of GECC’s relevant expenses. We have received allocations from GE of $230 million, $206 million and $183 million for these services for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. Following this offering, any assessment made by GE will be made under the transitional services agreement in respect of specified services.

We expect to incur incremental advertising and marketing costs, currently estimated to be approximately $90 million to $100 million per year, to establish a new brand identity and support the growth of our direct banking operations.

For a discussion of the aggregate impact of the expected changes relating to these costs, see “—Business Trends and Conditions—Increases in operating expenses following this offering” above.

Interest Expense. Historically, we have had access to funding provided by GECC. We used related party debt provided by GECC to meet our funding requirements after taking into account deposits held at the Bank, funding from securitized financings and cash generated from our operations. We incurred borrowing costs for related party debt of $157 million, $155 million and $333 million, for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. Our average cost of funds for related party debt was 1.7%, 1.5% and 2.8% for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. In connection with this offering, $             of the related party debt outstanding on the closing date of this offering will be repaid, and GECC will provide transitional funding pursuant to the $             billion New GECC Term Loan Facility.

Single Operating Segment

We conduct our business through a single operating segment. See Note 2. Basis of Presentation and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies—Segment Reporting to our combined financial statements. Profitability and expenses, including funding costs, loan losses and operating expenses, are managed for the business as a whole. We offer our products through three sales platforms (Retail Card, Payment Solutions and CareCredit), which management measures based on their platform revenues and other revenue-related sales metrics, including purchase volume, loan receivables and new accounts. See “—Platform Analysis.”

Results of Operations

The discussion below provides an analysis of our combined results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011.

2013 Highlights

Below are highlights of our performance in 2013. These highlights generally are based on a comparison between our 2013 and 2012 results, except as otherwise noted.

 

    We had net earnings of $1,979 million on total net interest income of $10,571 million in 2013 compared to net earnings of $2,119 million on total net interest income of $9,564 million in 2012. The decrease in net earnings was driven primarily by an increase in our provision for loan losses as a result of enhancements to our allowance for loan loss methodology.

 

    Loan receivables increased by $4,941 million, or 9.4%, to $57,254 million at December 31, 2013 compared to December 31, 2012. The increase was driven primarily by purchase volume growth of 9.3% in 2013, which was driven by an increase in active accounts and higher purchase volume per account.

 

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    Net interest income increased by $1,007 million, or 10.5%, from $9,564 million in 2012 to $10,571 million in 2013 due to higher average loan receivables. Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements increased from $7,589 million in 2012 to $8,209 million in 2013 as net interest income was offset in part by increased payments to partners under our retailer share arrangements.

 

    Payments to our partners under our retailer share arrangements increased by $387 million from $1,975 million in 2012 to $2,362 million in 2013, primarily as a result of the growth and improved performance of the programs in which we have retailer share arrangements, as well as by changes to the terms of the retailer share arrangements for those partners with whom we extended programs agreements in 2013.

 

    Loan delinquencies as a percentage of receivables decreased over the prior year with the over 30-day delinquency rate decreasing from 4.6% at December 31, 2012 to 4.3% at December 31, 2013. Reduced delinquency rates were driven by improvements in the quality of our loan receivables and continued improvement in the U.S. economy and employment rates. Net charge-off rates decreased from 4.9% in 2012 to 4.7% in 2013.

 

    We increased our provision for loan losses by $507 million from $2,565 million in 2012 to $3,072 million in 2013 as a result of enhancements to our allowance for loan loss methodology, offset in part by improved portfolio performance. Reserve coverage (allowance for loan losses as a percent of end of period loan receivables) increased from 4.3% in 2012 to 5.1% in 2013.

 

    Other expense increased from $2,121 million in 2012 to $2,483 million in 2013. The increase to other expense was driven primarily by a $133 million increase in our consumer regulatory expenses (inclusive of CareCredit’s $34.1 million CFPB settlement), $78 million increase in employee costs, $53 million increase in marketing expense, $35 million related to professional fees and $24 million increase in GE allocations and assessments. These increases (excluding the consumer regulatory expenses) were predominantly driven by the growth in purchase volume, transactions and receivables of our business.

 

    We acquired MetLife’s direct-to-consumer retail banking platform. Primarily as a result of the MetLife acquisition, we increased our deposit funding from 40% at December 31, 2012 to 51% of our total funding at December 31, 2013 (an increase of $6,915 million) while decreasing funding from securitized financings from 37% to 31% and related party debt from 23% to 18%.

 

    In 2013, we launched new programs with 14 partners (two in Retail Card (EBates and Phillips 66) and 12 in Payment Solutions) and added 17,000 new providers to our CareCredit network. We extended four program agreements in Retail Card (Belk, Brooks Brothers, JCPenney and Wal-Mart) and 52 program agreements in Payment Solutions, representing $16.3 billion in loan receivables at December 31, 2013, and did not extend agreements with five retailers in Payment Solutions, representing $0.1 billion in loan receivables at December 31, 2013.

2012 Highlights

Below are highlights of our performance in 2012. These highlights generally are based on a comparison between our 2012 and 2011 results, except as otherwise noted.

 

    We had net earnings of $2,119 million on total net interest income of $9,564 million in 2012 compared to net earnings of $1,890 million on total net interest income of $8,209 million in 2011.

 

    Loan receivables increased by $4,572 million, or 9.6%, from $47,741 million to $52,313 million at December 31, 2012 compared to December 31, 2011. The net increase was driven primarily by purchase volume growth of 10.3% in 2012, which was driven by more active accounts and higher purchase volume per account.

 

   

Net interest income increased by $1,355 million, or 16.5%, from $8,209 million in 2011 to $9,564 million in 2012 due to higher average loan receivables and increased yield. Net interest income, after retailer

 

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share arrangements increased from $6,779 million in 2011 to $7,589 million in 2012 as net interest income was offset in part by increased payments to partners under our retailer share arrangements.

 

    Payments to our partners under our retailer share arrangements increased by $545 million from $1,430 million in 2011 to $1,975 million in 2012, primarily as a result of growth and improved performance of the programs in which we have retailer share arrangements, as well as by changes to the terms of the retailer share arrangements for those partners with whom we extended programs agreements in 2012.

 

    Loan delinquencies as a percentage of receivables decreased over the prior year with the over-30 day delinquency rate decreasing from 4.9% at December 31, 2011 to 4.6% at December 31, 2012. Reduced delinquency rates were driven by improvements in the quality of our loan receivables and continued improvement in the U.S. economy and employment rates. Net charge-off rates decreased from 5.8% in 2011 to 4.9% in 2012.

 

    Despite improvement in our loan delinquencies and charge-off rates, we increased our provision for loan losses by $307 million from $2,258 million in 2011 to $2,565 million in 2012 primarily as a result of enhancements to our allowance for loan loss methodology. Reserve coverage was stable at 4.3% in 2012.

 

    Other expense increased from $2,009 million in 2011 to $2,121 million in 2012. The increase to other expense was driven primarily by a $60 million increase in fraud expense, a $24 million increase in employee costs and a $19 million increase in professional fees.

 

    Our funding mix continued to shift in 2012 from earlier periods. Our total securitized financings increased from $14.2 billion in 2011 to $17.2 billion in 2012; our deposits increased from $17.8 billion in 2011 to $18.8 billion in 2012, and related party debt was reduced from $11.7 billion in 2011 to $10.6 billion in 2012.

 

    In 2012, we launched new programs with 12 partners (one in Retail Card (Toys “R” Us) and 11 in Payment Solutions) and added 19,000 new providers to our CareCredit network. We extended three program agreements in Retail Card (Amazon, Gap and Sam’s Club) and 58 program agreements in Payment Solutions, representing $12.8 billion in loan receivables at December 31, 2012, and did not extend agreements with five retailers in Payment Solutions, representing $0.3 billion in loan receivables at December 31, 2012.

Summary Earnings

The following table sets forth our results of operations for the periods indicated.

 

     Years Ended December 31,  
Years ended December 31 ($ in millions)        2013             2012             2011      

Interest income

   $ 11,313      $ 10,309      $ 9,141   

Interest expense

     742        745        932   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income

     10,571        9,564        8,209   

Retailer share arrangements

     (2,362     (1,975     (1,430
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements

     8,209        7,589        6,779   

Provision for loan losses

     3,072        2,565        2,258   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net interest income, after retailer share arrangements and provision for loan losses

     5,137        5,024        4,521   

Other income

     488        473        498   

Other expense

     2,483        2,121        2,009   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Earnings before provision for income taxes

     3,142        3,376        3,010   

Provision for income taxes

     (1,163     (1,257     (1,120
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net earnings

   $ 1,979      $ 2,119      $ 1,890   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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Average Balance Sheet and Volume/Rate Analyses

The following table sets forth information for the periods indicated regarding average balance sheet data and volume/rate variance data, which are used in the discussion of interest income, interest expense and net interest income that follows.

 

    2013     2012     2011  
Years ended December 31, ($ in millions)   Average
Balance(1)
    Interest
Income /
Expense
    Average
Yield /

Rate(2)
    Average
Balance(1)
    Interest
Income/
Expense
    Average
Yield /

Rate(2)
    Average
Balance(1)
    Interest
Income /
Expense
    Average
Yield /

Rate(2)
 

Assets

                 

Interest-earning assets:

                 

Interest-earning cash and equivalents(3)

  $ 3,651      $ 10        0.3   $ 787      $ 2        0.3   $ 130      $ —          0.0

Securities available for sale

    217        8        3.7     189        7        3.7     155        7        4.5

Other short-term investment securities

    —          —          0.0     50        —          0.0     188        —          0.0

Loan receivables(4):

                 

Credit cards(5)

    49,704        11,015        22.2     44,460        9,967        22.4     40,219        8,720        21.7

Consumer installment loans

    1,336        129        9.7     1,705        176        10.3     2,468        245        9.9

Commercial credit products

    1,355        150        11.1     1,366        156        11.4     1,420        168        11.8

Other

    12        1        8.3     18        1        5.6     24        1        4.2
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total loan receivables

    52,407        11,295        21.6     47,549        10,300        21.7     44,131        9,134        20.7
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total interest-earning assets

    56,275        11,313        20.1     48,575        10,309        21.2     44,604        9,141        20.5
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Non-interest-earning assets:

                 

Cash and due from banks

    552            475            457       

Allowance for loans losses

    (2,693         (1,908         (2,034    

Other assets

    2,050            2,763            3,191       
 

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

     

Total non-interest-earning assets

    (91         1,330            1,614       
 

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

     

Total assets

  $ 56,184          $ 49,905          $ 46,218       
 

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

     

Liabilities

                 

Interest-bearing liabilities:

                 

Interest-bearing deposit accounts

  $ 22,405      $ 374        1.7   $ 17,039      $ 362        2.1   $ 15,025      $ 351        2.3

Borrowings of consolidated securitization entities

    16,209        211        1.3     15,172        228        1.5     12,958        248        1.9

Related party debt

    9,000        157        1.7     10,132        155        1.5     11,729        333        2.8
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 
Total interest-bearing liabilities     47,614        742        1.6     42,343        745        1.8     39,712        932        2.3
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Non-interest-bearing liabilities

                 

Non-interest-bearing deposit accounts

    506            475            417       

Other liabilities

    2,943            2,323            2,080       
 

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

     

Total non-interest-bearing liabilities

    3,449            2,798            2,497       
 

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

     

Total liabilities

    51,063            45,141            42,209       
 

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

     

Equity

                 

Total equity

    5,121            4,764            4,009       

Total liabilities and equity

  $ 56,184          $ 49,905          $ 46,218       
 

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

     

Interest rate spread(6)

        18.5         19.4         18.2

Net interest income

    $ 10,571          $ 9,564          $ 8,209     
   

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

   

Net yield on total interest-earning assets(7)

        18.8         19.7         18.4
     

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

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(1) Average balances are based on monthly balances, except that where monthly balances are unavailable, quarter end balances are used. Collection of daily averages involves undue burden and expense. We believe our average balance sheet data is representative of our operations.
(2) Average yields/rates are based on total interest income/expense over average monthly balances.
(3) Includes average restricted cash balances of $58 million, $55 million and $33 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively.
(4) Non-accrual loans are included in the average loan receivables balances.
(5) Interest income on credit cards includes fees on loans of $2,029 million, $1,928 million and $1,649 million for the years ended December 31 2013, 2012 and 2011 respectively.
(6) Interest rate spread represents the difference between the yield on total interest-earning assets and the rate on total interest-bearing liabilities.
(7) Net yield on interest-earning assets represents net interest income, divided by total average interest-earning assets.

The following table sets forth the amount of changes in interest income and interest expense due to changes in average volume and average yield/rate. Variances due to changes in both average volume and yield/rate have been allocated between the average volume and average yield/rate variances on a consistent basis based upon the respective percentage changes in average balances and average yield/rate.

 

     2013 vs. 2012     2012 vs. 2011  
     Increase (decrease) due to change in:     Increase (decrease) due to change in:  
($ in millions)    Average
Volume
    Average
Yield / Rate
    Net Change     Average
Volume
    Average
Yield / Rate
    Net Change  

Interest-earning assets:

            

Interest-earning cash and equivalents

   $ 7      $ 1      $ 8      $ 2      $ —        $ 2   

Securities available for sale

     1        —          1        1        (1     —     

Loan receivables:

            

Credit cards

     1,176        (128     1,048        919        328        1,247   

Consumer installment loans

     (38     (9     (47     (76     7        (69

Commercial credit products

     (1     (5     (6     (6     (6     (12

Other

     —          —          —          —          —          —     
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total loan receivables

     1,137        (142     995        837        329        1,166   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Change in interest income from total interest-earning assets

   $ 1,145      $ (141   $ 1,004      $ 840      $ 328      $ 1,168   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Interest-bearing liabilities:

            

Interest-bearing deposit accounts

   $ 114      $ (102   $ 12      $ 47      $ (36   $ 11   

Borrowings of consolidated securitization entities

     15        (32     (17     43        (63     (20

Related party debt

     (17     19        2        (45     (133     (178
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Change in interest expense from total interest-bearing liabilities

     112        (115     (3     45        (232     (187
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Change in net interest income from total interest-earning assets

   $ 1,033      $ (26   $ 1,007      $ 795      $ 560      $ 1,355   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Interest Income

Interest income is comprised of interest and fees on loans, which includes merchant discounts provided by partners in almost all cases to compensate us for all or part of the promotional financing provided to their customers, and interest on cash equivalents and investment securities. We include in interest and fees on loans any past due interest and fees deemed to be collectible. Direct loan origination costs on credit card loans are

 

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deferred and amortized on a straight-line basis over a one-year period and recorded in interest and fees on loans. For non-credit card receivables, direct loan origination costs are deferred and amortized over the life of the loan and recorded in interest and fees on loans.

We analyze interest income as a function of two principal components: average interest-earning assets and yield on average interest-earning assets. Key drivers of average interest-earning assets include:

 

    purchase volumes, which are influenced by a number of factors including macroeconomic conditions and consumer confidence generally, our partners’ sales and our ability to increase our share of those sales;

 

    payment rates, reflecting the extent to which customers maintain a credit balance;

 

    charge-offs, reflecting the receivables that are deemed not to be collectible;

 

    the size of our liquidity portfolio; and

 

    portfolio acquisitions when we enter into new partner relationships.

Over the past three years, our significant portfolio acquisitions, which in the aggregate accounted for $1.8 billion of loan receivables at the time of acquisition and $3.1 billion of loan receivables at December 31, 2013, were as follows:

 

    Phillips 66—acquired on June 28, 2013;

 

    Toys “R” Us—acquired on June 21, 2012;

 

    TJX (including T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods)—acquired on June 15, 2011; and

 

    Ashley HomeStores—acquired on January 11, 2011.

Key drivers of yield on average interest-earning assets include:

 

    pricing (contractual rates of interest, late fees and merchant discount rates);

 

    changes to our mix of loans (e.g., the number of loans bearing promotional rates as compared to standard rates);

 

    frequency of late fees incurred when account holders fail to make their minimum payment by the required due date;

 

    credit performance and accrual status of our loans; and

 

    yield earned on our liquidity portfolio.

Interest income increased from $10,309 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $11,313 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, or by 9.7%. This increase was driven primarily by the increase in average interest-earning assets, which contributed $1,145 million to interest income for the year ended December 31, 2013, partially offset by the decrease in the yield on interest-earning assets from 21.2% to 20.1%, which reduced interest income by $141 million. While yield on interest-earning loan receivables was relatively flat, the significant increase in the amount of cash and equivalents in our liquidity portfolio negatively impacted overall yield on interest-earning assets.

 

   

Average interest-earning assets. Interest-earning assets are comprised primarily of loan receivables. Average loan receivables increased from $47,549 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $52,407 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. This increase in average loan receivables was driven primarily by increased purchase volumes, as average annual purchase volume per account increased from $1,620 for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $1,668 for the year ended December 31, 2013, and the average active credit card accounts increased from 53.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to 56.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. Our average

 

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account balance increased from $897 for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $932 for the year ended December 31, 2013, reflecting the increase in purchase volumes and lower payment rates. The increase in average loan receivables also reflects the addition of the assets related to the acquisition of the Phillips 66 portfolio, which was completed in the second quarter of 2013.

 

    Yield on average interest-earning assets. The yield on interest-earning assets is driven primarily by yield on average interest-earning loan receivables (which decreased from 21.7% for the year ended December 31, 2012 to 21.6% for the year ended December 31, 2013) and the size of our liquidity portfolio (which increased from $1,037 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $2,103 million for the year ended December 31, 2013). The lower interest yield on interest-earning loan receivables for the year ended December 31, 2013 was largely attributable to a decrease in late fees as a percentage of average interest-earning loan receivables.

Interest income increased from $9,141 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $10,309 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, or by 12.8%. This increase was driven by the increase in average balances of interest-earning assets, which contributed $840 million, and the increase in the yield on interest-earning assets from 20.5% for the year ended December 31, 2011 to 21.2% for the year ended December 31, 2012, which contributed $328 million to the increase in interest income for the year ended December 31, 2012.

 

    Average interest-earning assets. Average loan receivables increased from $44,131 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $47,549 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. This increase in average loan receivables reflects a $8,018 million increase in purchase volume and the addition of assets related to the acquisition of the Toys “R” Us portfolio, which was completed in the second quarter of 2012. The growth in purchase volume reflected an increase in average annual purchase volume per account from $1,518 for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $1,620 for the year ended December 31, 2012 and an increase in average active credit card accounts from 51.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to 53.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2012.

 

    Yield on average interest-earning assets. Yield on interest-earning assets is driven primarily by yield on average interest-earning loan receivables, which increased from approximately 20.7% for the year ended December 31, 2011 to approximately 21.7% for the year ended December 31, 2012. The higher interest yield in 2012 was largely attributable to higher average annual percentage rate mix and higher late fees as a percentage of average interest-earning loan receivables.

Interest Expense

Interest expense is incurred on our interest-bearing liabilities, which consisted of interest-bearing deposit accounts, borrowings of consolidated securitization entities and related party debt provided by GECC.

Key drivers of interest expense include:

 

    the amounts outstanding of our borrowings, deposits and other funding sources;

 

    the interest rate environment and its effect on interest rates paid on our funding sources; and

 

    the changing mix in our funding sources among deposits, GECC financing and third-party securitization and unsecured borrowings.

Interest expense decreased from $745 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $742 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. The effect of an increase in average interest-bearing liabilities, from $42,343 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $47,614 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, was more than offset by a lower average cost of funds (1.8% for the year ended December 31, 2012 versus 1.6% for the year ended December 31, 2013).

Interest expense decreased from $932 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $745 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. The effect of an increase in average interest-bearing liabilities, from $39,712

 

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million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $42,343 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, was more than offset by a lower average cost of funds (2.3% for the year ended December 31, 2011 versus 1.8% for the year ended December 31, 2012) due to a lower interest rate environment and a reduction of the interest rate assessed by GECC on related party debt.

Net Interest Income

Net interest income represents the difference between interest income and interest expense. We expect net interest income as a percentage of interest-earning assets to be influenced by changes in the interest rate environment, changes in our mix of products, the level of loans bearing promotional rates as compared to our standard rates, credit performance of our loans and changes in the amount and composition of our interest-bearing liabilities.

Net interest income increased from $9,564 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $10,571 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, or by 10.5%. This increase was driven primarily by an increase in average interest-earning receivables, which contributed $1,137 million.

Net interest income increased from $8,209 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $9,564 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, or by 16.5%. This increase was driven primarily by three components: an increase in average interest-earning assets which contributed $840 million, an increase in the yield on interest-earning assets from 20.5% for the year ended December 31, 2011 to 21.2% for the year ended December 31, 2012, which contributed $328 million, and a decrease in the yield on interest-bearing liabilities from 2.3% for the year ended December 31, 2011 to 1.8% for the year ended December 31, 2012, which contributed $232 million.

Retailer Share Arrangements

Most of our Retail Card program agreements and certain other program agreements contain retailer share arrangements that provide for payments to our partner if the economic performance of the program exceeds a contractually defined threshold. These arrangements are designed to align our interests and provide an additional incentive to our partners to promote our credit products. Although the share arrangements vary by partner, these arrangements are generally structured to measure the economic performance of the program, based typically on agreed upon program revenues (including interest income and certain other income) less agreed upon program expenses (including interest expense, provision for loan losses, retailer payments and operating expenses), and share portions of this amount above a negotiated threshold. The threshold and economic performance of a program that are used to calculate payments to our partners may be based on, among other things, agreed upon measures of program expenses rather than our actual expenses, and therefore increases in our actual expenses (such as funding costs or operating expenses) may not necessarily result in reduced payments under our retailer share arrangements. These arrangements are typically designed to permit us to achieve an economic return before we are required to make payments to our partners based on the agreed contractually defined threshold. Our payments to partners pursuant to these retailer share arrangements have increased in recent years (both in absolute terms and as a proportion of interest income), partially as a result of the growth of our receivables related to programs with retailer share arrangements and improvements in the credit performance of these receivables. In addition, we have made changes to the terms of certain program agreements that have been re-negotiated in the past few years that have contributed to the increase in payments to partners pursuant to retailer share arrangements.

We believe that our retailer share arrangements have been effective in helping us to grow our business by aligning our partners’ interests with ours. We also believe that changes to the terms of certain program agreements that have contributed to the increase in our retailer share arrangement payments will help us to grow our business by providing an additional incentive to the relevant partners to promote our credit products going forward. Payments to partners pursuant to these retailer share arrangements would generally decrease, and mitigate the impact on our profitability, in the event of declines in the performance of the programs or the

 

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occurrence of other unfavorable developments that impact the calculation of payments to our partners pursuant to our retailer share arrangements.

Payments under retailer share arrangements increased from $1,975 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $2,362 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. This increase was driven by the growth and improved performance of the programs in which we have retailer share arrangements, as well as by changes to the terms of the retailer share arrangements for those partners with whom we extended program agreements in 2013.

Retailer share arrangements increased from $1,430 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $1,975 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. This increase was driven by the growth and improved performance of the programs in which we have retailer share arrangements, as well as by changes to the terms of the retailer share arrangements for those partners with whom we extended program agreements in 2012.

Provision for Loan Losses

Provision for loan losses is the expense related to maintaining the allowance for loan losses at an appropriate level to absorb the estimated probable losses inherent in the loan portfolio at each period end date. Provision for loan losses in each period is a function of net charge-offs (gross charge-offs net of recoveries) and the required level of the allowance for loan losses. We incurred a provision for loan losses of $3,072 million, $2,565 million and $2,258 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. During 2012 we began a process to enhance our allowance for loan losses methodology by revising our estimates to determine the incurred loss period for each type of loss (i.e., aged, fraud, deceased, settlement, other non-aged and bankruptcy) by partner. This enhancement resulted in a more granular portfolio segmentation analysis, by loss type, included a qualitative assessment of the adequacy of the portfolio’s allowance for loan losses, which compared the allowance for losses to projected net charge-offs over the next 12 months, in a manner consistent with regulatory guidance, and was designed to provide a better estimate of the date of a probable loss event and length of time required for a probable loss event to result in a charge-off. We recognized incremental provisions of $343 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 and $642 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, in each case, as a result of these enhancements. We continuously review and evaluate our methodology and models, and we will implement further enhancements or changes to them, as needed.

Provision for loan losses increased from $2,565 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $3,072 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. This increase was driven primarily by the enhancements to our allowance for loan loss methodology referred to above and loan receivables growth, which was offset in part by lower provisions as a result of improvements to our delinquency and charge-off rates.

Provision for loan losses increased from $2,258 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $2,565 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. This increase was driven primarily by the enhancements to our allowance for loan loss methodology and loan receivables growth, which was offset in part by lower provisions as a result of improvements to our delinquency and charge-off rates.

Other Income

The following table sets forth our other income for the periods indicated.

 

Years ended December 31 ($ in millions)    2013     2012     2011  

Interchange revenue

   $ 325      $ 288      $ 237   

Debt cancellation fees

     324        309        319   

Loyalty programs

     (213     (199     (198

Other

     52        75        140   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total other income

   $ 488      $ 473      $ 498   
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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Interchange revenue. We earn interchange fees on Dual Card transactions outside of our partners’ locations, based on a flat fee plus a percent of the purchase amount. We also process general purpose card transactions for some Payment Solutions and CareCredit partners as their acquiring bank, for which we obtain an interchange fee. Interchange revenue increased from $288 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $325 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, or by 12.8%. Interchange revenue increased from $237 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $288 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, or by 21.5%. These increases were due to increases in Dual Card purchase volume outside of our partners’ locations.

Debt cancellation fees. Debt cancellation fees relate to payment protection products purchased by our credit card customers. Customers who choose to purchase these products are charged a monthly fee based on their account balance. In return, we will cancel all or a portion of a customer’s credit card balance in the event of certain qualifying life events. In October 2012, we ceased debt cancellation product sales via phone calls to our customer service department and began to only offer the product online and, on a limited basis, by direct mail, which has led to a decrease in new enrollments for this product and is expected to result in a lower level of income generated by this product in the future as the balances of existing accounts enrolled in this program decrease over time. Debt cancellation fees increased from $309 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $324 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, driven primarily by higher average account balances of customers that have purchased our debt cancellation product. Debt cancellation fees decreased from $319 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $309 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, primarily due to reduced pricing.

Loyalty programs. We operate a number of loyalty programs in our Retail Card platform that are designed to generate incremental purchase volume per customer, while reinforcing the value of the card and strengthening cardholder loyalty. These programs typically provide cardholders with rewards in the form of merchandise discounts that are earned by achieving a pre-set spending level on their private label or Dual Card. Other programs provide cashback or reward points, which are redeemable for a variety of products or awards. Loyalty programs cost increased from $199 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $213 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, or by 7.0%, primarily due to increased purchase volume. Loyalty program cost did not change materially from 2011 to 2012.

Other. Other includes a variety of items including ancillary fees and investment gains/losses. Other decreased from $75 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $52 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, primarily due to lower ancillary fees. Other decreased from $140 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $75 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, primarily due to a 2011 gain related to the sale of a portfolio and lower ancillary fees.

Other Expense

The following table sets forth our other expense for the periods indicated.

 

Years ended December 31 ($ in millions)    2013      2012      2011  

Employee costs

   $ 698       $ 620       $ 596   

Professional fees

     485         450         431   

Marketing and business development

     208         155         164   

Information processing

     193         165         157   

Corporate overhead allocations and assessments(1)

     230         206         183   

Other(1)

     669         525         478   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total other expense

   $ 2,483       $ 2,121       $ 2,009   
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) In our Combined Statements of Earnings, these two items are both combined and included under a single line item in other expense under the heading “other.”

 

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Employee costs. Employee costs primarily consist of employee compensation and benefit costs. Employee costs increased from $620 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $698 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, primarily related to additional compensation expenses for new employees and salary increases for existing employees. Employee costs increased from $596 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $620 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, primarily related to additional compensation expenses for new employees and salary increases for existing employees.

Professional fees. Professional fees consist primarily of outsourced provider fees (e.g., collection agencies and call centers), legal, accounting and consulting fees, and recruiting expenses. Professional fees increased from $450 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $485 million in 2013. Professional fees increased from $431 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $450 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. These expense increases were driven primarily by our business growth (e.g., increased active accounts and increased purchase volumes).

Marketing and business development. Marketing and business development costs consist of both our contractual and discretionary marketing spend. Marketing and business development costs increased from $155 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $208 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, due to increased contractual marketing expenses under our program agreements resulting from growth in the business. Marketing and business development costs remained relatively flat between 2011 and 2012.

Information processing. Information processing costs primarily consist of fees related to outsourced information processing providers, credit card associations and software licensing agreements. Information processing costs increased from $165 million for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $193 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, due to higher transaction volume and associated outsourcing fees. Information processing costs increased from $157 million for the year ended December 31, 2011 to $165 million for the year ended December 31, 2012.

Corporate overhead allocations. As discussed above under “—Separation from GE and Related Financial Arrangements,” corporate overhead allocations were $230 million, $206 million and $183 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. These amounts do not include services provided by GE where the costs associated with such services are directly billed and included in the appropriate cost categories (e.g., employee benefit costs are included in employee costs above).

Other. Other primarily consists of postage ($223 million, $214 million and $213 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively), fraud expense ($134 million, $132 million and $72 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012, and 2011, respectively), litigation and consumer regulatory matters expense described above ($133 million, $0 million and $0 million for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively) and various other smaller cost items such as facilities leases and maintenance, leased equipment and telephone charges. Postage is driven primarily by the number of our active accounts and the percentage of customers that utilize our electronic billing option. Fraud is driven primarily by the number of our Dual Card active accounts. Our litigation and consumer regulatory matters expense increased in 2013 as we settled a CareCredit investigation pursuant to which we will pay up to $34.1 million, as well as increased reserves for ongoing regulatory matters.

Provision for Income Taxes

We are included in the consolidated federal and state income tax returns of GE, where applicable, but also file certain separate state and foreign income tax returns. The tax provision is presented on a separate company basis as if we were a separate filer. The effects of tax adjustments and settlements from taxing authorities are presented in our combined financial statements in the period to which they relate as if we were a separate filer. Our current obligations for taxes are settled with our parent on an estimated basis and adjusted in later periods as appropriate and are reflected in our combined financial statements in the periods in which those

 

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settlements occur. The effective tax rate was 37.0%, 37.2% and 37.2% for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. In 2013, 2012 and 2011, the effective tax rate differs from the U.S. federal statutory tax rate of 35.0% primarily due to state income taxes. We are subject to income tax in the United States (federal, state and local) as well as other jurisdictions in which we operate. Our provision for income tax expense is based on our income, the statutory tax rates and other provisions of the tax laws applicable to us in each of these various jurisdictions. These laws are complex, and their application to our facts is at times open to interpretation. The process of determining our consolidated income tax expense includes significant judgments and estimates, including judgments regarding the interpretation of those laws. Our provision for income taxes and our deferred tax assets and liabilities incorporate those judgments and estimates, and reflect management’s best estimate of current and future income taxes to be paid. Deferred tax assets and liabilities relate to temporary differences between the financial reporting and income tax bases of our assets and liabilities, as well as the impact of tax loss carryforwards or carrybacks. Deferred income tax expense or benefit represents the expected increase or decrease to future tax payments as these temporary differences reverse over time. Deferred tax assets are specific to the jurisdiction in which they arise, and are recognized subject to management’s judgment that realization of those assets is “more likely than not.” In making decisions regarding our ability to realize tax assets, we evaluate all positive and negative evidence, including projected future taxable income, taxable income in carryback periods, expected reversal of deferred tax liabilities, and the implementation of available tax planning strategies.

We recognize the financial statement impact of uncertain income tax positions when we conclude that it is more likely than not, based on the technical merits of a position, that the position will be sustained upon audit by the taxing authority. In certain situations, we establish a liability that represents the difference between a tax position taken (or expected to be taken) on an income tax return and the amount of taxes recognized in our financial statements. We recognize accrued interest and penalties related to uncertain income tax positions as interest expense and provision for income taxes, respectively.

Platform Analysis

As discussed above under “—Introduction—Our Sales Platforms,” we offer our products through three sales platforms (Retail Card, Payment Solutions and CareCredit), which management measures based on their revenue-generating activities. The following is a discussion of the platform revenue for each of our platforms.

Non-GAAP Measures

In order to assess and internally report the revenue performance of our three sales platforms, we use a measure we refer to as “platform revenue.” Platform revenue is the sum of three line items in our Combined Statements of Earnings prepared in accordance with GAAP: “interest and fees on loans,” plus “other income,” less “retailer share arrangements.” Platform revenue itself is not a measure presented in accordance with GAAP. The reconciliation of platform revenue to interest and fees on loans is set out in the table included in the discussion of each of our three platforms below. We deduct retailer share arrangements but do not deduct other line item expenses, such as interest expense, provision for loan losses and other expense, because those items are managed for the business as a whole. We believe that platform revenue is a useful measure to investors because it represents management’s view of the net revenue contribution of each of our platforms. This measure should not be considered a substitute for interest and fees on loans or other measures of performance we have reported in accordance with GAAP.

 

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Retail Card

The following table sets forth supplemental information related to our Retail Card platform for the periods indicated.

 

Years ended December 31 ($ in millions, except per account data)        2013             2012             2011      

Purchase volume

   $ 75,739      $ 69,240      $ 62,663   

Period-end loan receivables

   $ 39,834      $ 35,952      $ 32,087   

Average loan receivables

   $ 35,716      $ 31,907      $ 28,743   

Average active accounts (in thousands)

     45,690        43,223        42,079   

Average purchase volume per account

   $ 1,658      $ 1,602      $ 1,489   

Average loan receivable balance per account

   $ 782      $ 738      $ 683   

Interest and fees on loans

   $ 8,317      $ 7,531      $ 6,536   

Other income

     407        392        382   

Retailer share arrangements

     (2,320     (1,937     (1,384
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Platform revenue

   $ 6,404      $ 5,986