GE Said to Start Sale Process for Industrial Solutions in March

28 February 2017

GE is preparing to kick off the sale of its $3 billion industrial solutions business in March, people with knowledge of the matter said, as the U.S. conglomerate continues to divest peripheral assets.

While a formal process hasn’t begun yet, the company has tapped advisers to help find a buyer, the people said. GE is likely to gauge interest in the business from ABB Ltd., Schneider Electric SE, Eaton Corp. and Siemens AG, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Private equity firms could be interested in the business, the people said, and some prospective suitors have started consulting advisers, though it’s premature to say who will bid.

General Electric Co. revealed plans in December to sell industrial solutions, which offers electrical-distribution products such as circuit breakers and switchgear. Along with its water filtration and chemicals division, which GE put on the market in October, the company expects the divestitures to generate about $4 billion of net proceeds, to be used largely on restructuring.

The sale of industrial solutions is part of a broader portfolio transformation as GE focuses on high-margin equipment manufacturing. In recent years, the Boston-based company has shed the bulk of its finance and consumer operations while expanding industrial units through moves including the $10 billion acquisition of Alstom SA’s energy business.

A spokesman for GE declined to comment. A spokesman for ABB said the company doesn’t comment on market rumors, while representatives for Siemens and Schneider declined to comment. Representatives for Eaton didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

GE’s industrial solutions unit has about 13,500 employees in more than 60 countries. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said at a December shareholder meeting that the operations should generate “a lot of interest in people that don’t have a North American platform.”

The company has said it expects to close the sale of the business by late 2017, following a mid-year completion of a deal for the water unit.