General Electric plans to spin off its life and mortgage insurance units into a publicly traded $10 billion company called Genworth Financial.GE, which exited the residential origination/servicing business more than two years ago, will retain a 30% stake in the new unit. GE Mortgage Insurance, Raleigh, N.C., is the nation's third-largest mortgage insurer in terms of policies in force, and the fourth-largest in new policies written. (Both measures reflect units, not dollar volume, and are based on third-quarter rankings compiled by the Quarterly Data Report.) There are seven major MI firms operating in the United States. All are publicly traded or have a parent that is public. GE said it will file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, and Genworth hopes to go public by midyear. About two months ago GEMI retreated from its triple-A rated status, a move that saved it about $1 billion. The switch to double-A was a harbinger of the initial public offering. Genworth will also include GE's international mortgage insurance and European payment protection businesses. "As a separate public company, Genworth will be able to pursue its own strategy with direct access to the capital markets to fund its own business initiatives," GE chairman and chief executive Jeff Immelt said. GE made the spinoff announcement Nov. 18.

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