GE Capital has become the first financial institution to shed its designation as systematically important to the US financial system, given to it by US regulators three years ago.

It was a regulatory status that was widely acknowledged as the trigger for the wide-scale sell-off of GE Capital’s various finance units, including its equipment finance and leasing business across the globe.

The regulators agreed to remove the designation after GE Capital made "significant divestitures, transformed its funding model, and implemented a corporate reorganization."

A statement from GE Capital said it applied to regulators for removal of the designation in March 2016, after the company spent a year transforming itself into a smaller financial services provider by shedding over half of its assets.

Leasing-related highlights included the sale of its healthcare finance unit to Capital One for $9bn (€8.14bn) in August, and the sale of its commercial lending and leasing businesses to Wells Fargo for $30bn in October 2015.

"This decision is a result of the transformation of GE Capital into a smaller, safer financial services company that meaningfully contributes to the success of GE’s industrial businesses," said GE Capital chairman and chief executive Keith Sherin. "We will continue to re-evaluate our capital requirements to reflect our reduced risk profile and right size our organization as we go forward."

GE Capital said it would return $18bn in dividends to its parent, GE, this year, and a total of $35bn in dividends during the entire transformation.