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At least four companies have expressed preliminary interest in buying

Tyco International's


finance unit.

An outright sale of the unit would be a departure from Tyco's original plan to hive off the former CIT Group to shareholders as part of its plan to split into four separate companies. The bidders for Tyco Capital include

General Electric

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American International

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, according to

The Wall Street Journal


Tyco has seen its stock price plummet since the break-up plan was announced and many shareholders believe the immediate cash infusion of a sale -- the unit could fetch anywhere from $7 billion to $12 billion -- would go a long way to shoring up the common stock of Tyco.

The conglomerate's shares fell 23% to $23.10 after the parent said it would tap into its $5.9 billion bank lines to refinance short-term debt, a move that was followed Tuesday by Tyco Capital.