GE raids Merrill Lynch for Webber to head lobbying

The consumer lending arm of General Electric, the world’s largest company, has poached Merrill Lynch’s top UK lobbyist Miles Webber to be its head of European government relations.

Webber joins GE Consumer Finance (GECF) in the new London-based role on 1 November. He has been put on gardening leave at Merrill Lynch, having worked at the investment bank for the past six years, latterly as head of government relations.

He said his move was prompted partly by the fact that 'retail financial services is more dynamic' currently than the wholesale sector.

He joins GE as it continues to expand aggresively  across Europe. It has undertaken 19 acquisitions in the past five years. Last month
it entered Turkey, buying a significant stake in the country's third-largest bank, Garanti.

In the UK the company is preparing to rebrand its consumer finance division as GE Money. It holds a 50 per cent share of the UK store card market, but has attracted fierce criticism from the Competition Commission over the high interest rates charged to customers.

Webber will report to  general counsel at GECF Europe Susan Critchon. The company retains Lexington Communications in the UK.
Merrill Lynch, which retains LLM Communications, is understood to be hunting Webber's successor.

'At GECF there is an increased focus on the importance of external stakeholders including government,' said European V-P of communications Hugh Gillanders, who joined at the start of the year from Edelman.

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