GE, icon of American business, to exit health-care and oil sectors

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New York | Updated: June 26, 2018 7:03:21 PM

General Electric Co said on Tuesday it plans to spin off its healthcare business and divest its stake in oil-services company Baker Hughes, leaving the once-sprawling conglomerate focused on jet engines, power plants and renewable energy.

General Electric company, Insurance, Insurance Business, GE Insurance businessThe unit reported sales of .23 billion in 2017. GE said it plans to reduce its industrial net debt by about billion by 2020 and maintain more than billion of cash on its balance sheet.

General Electric Co said on Tuesday it plans to spin off its healthcare business and divest its stake in oil-services company Baker Hughes, leaving the once-sprawling conglomerate focused on jet engines, power plants and renewable energy. The changes aim to reward battered shareholders and strengthen GE’s balance sheet by reducing debt, build up cash and further shrink GE Capital, GE said. Shareholders will receive 80 percent of the value of GE Healthcare as a tax-free distribution, GE said.

GE shares were up about 2.7 percent at $13.10 in pre-market trading. The company said it would spin off the profitable healthcare unit over the next 12 to 18 months, and would sell its Baker Hughes stake over two to three years.

The moves, which come at the end of a year-long strategic review, leave GE with some of its best- and worst-performing units. Aviation has been highly profitable, but power profit has tumbled as sales of plants and services have slowed, and renewable energy profit margins are in the single digits. The latest news is a day after GE agreed to sell its distributed power unit for $3.25 billion to U.S. buyout group Advent. GE also has announced plans to shed its transportation unit, which makes railroad locomotives.

GE’s healthcare unit makes diagnostic imaging systems such as X-ray and magnetic resonance and clinical systems, including ultrasound. The business had $19.11 billion in revenue in 2017, representing more than 15 percent of the company’s annual sales. GE bought Baker Hughes in July 2017 and combined it with its oil and gas equipment and services operations to create a new company in which GE holds a stake of about 62.5 percent.

The unit reported sales of $17.23 billion in 2017. GE said it plans to reduce its industrial net debt by about $25 billion by 2020 and maintain more than $15 billion of cash on its balance sheet.

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