Dell Inc., the world's second-biggest personal-computer maker, agreed to buy CIT Group Inc.'s 30 percent stake in their financial joint venture for $306 million, taking control of its lending to customers.

The companies formed the venture in 1997 to extend credit to U.S. Dell buyers, according to a statement Thursday. The business, called Dell Financial Services, has a portfolio of more than $4.5 billion and has helped consumers and businesses make $18 billion in purchases, according to its Web site.

Dell is working to make it easier for consumers to buy its products as it chases Hewlett-Packard Co. for the PC sales lead. The financial service lets shoppers purchase or lease computers, software and accessories. Hewlett-Packard passed Dell last year after reaching more consumers through its retail network.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed suit in May against the joint venture, alleging that Dell and CIT engage in deceptive practices, promising customers "no-interest" loans and then denying about 85 percent of all applicants. Customers are then offered interest rates higher than 16 percent, the complaint said. The case is still pending.