General Motors' finance division GMAC is emerging as favourite to buy Chartered Trust, the finance and leasing division of Standard Chartered which was put up for sale this month.
The US giant, the second largest motor finance bank after Ford Credit, is one of the few companies which can afford the £700m asking price and is known to be keen to expand its non-GM finance and leasing customer base.
Analysts say GMAC has invested heavily in internet-based finance systems, buying Online Finance in 1998, and would be interested in acquiring Chartered Trust's advanced E-quips web-based finance package which has been developed in conjunction with BT.
GMAC also wants to increase its penetration of non-Vauxhall franchised and independent car dealers in the UK. Chartered Trust, which is particularly strong in independent used cars and handles Suzuki Finance, would give it a significant market share.
GMAC has expanded its contract hire and leasing companies, having paid £226m for Arriva (now Interleasing) last year to operate alongside its own Masterhire. Chartered Trust owns contract hire companies ACL Autolease and Motorent with around 54,000 vehicles under contract.