General Electric Sells Industrial Solutions Group to ABB for $2.6 Billion

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Last December, General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) announced that it planned to sell its industrial solutions business. Monday morning Switzerland-based ABB announced that it has agreed to acquire GE’s industrial solutions business for $2.6 billion. The announcement did not indicate whether the acquisition was all cash or a combination of cash and ABB shares.

As part of the transaction, ABB and GE have agreed to establish a long-term, strategic supply relationship for GE industrial solutions products and ABB products that GE sources today.

Bloomberg News reported Friday that the deal was in the works and that it could be announced as soon as this week.

GE’s industrial solutions division includes about 13,500 employees who make and sell high-performance software and control solutions and offer products such as circuit breakers, relays, arresters, switchgear, panel boards and repair for the commercial, data center, health care, mining, renewable energy, oil and gas, water and telecommunication markets. The division’s 2016 revenues totaled approximately $2.7 billion.

ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer said:

With GE Industrial Solutions, we strengthen our Number 2 position in electrification globally and expand our access to the attractive North American market. Combined with the long-term strategic supply relationship with GE, this transaction creates significant value for our shareholders.

GE CEO John Flannery added:

This combination brings together two global businesses with a broad complement of electrical protection and distribution assets. ABB values our people, domain expertise, and our ability to operate in the segments where we have depth and experience. GE will also benefit through an expanded strategic supply relationship with ABB as the two companies work together.

ABB expects the transaction to be completed in the first half of next year and is putting a hold on a previously announced stock buyback program, presumably to help pay for the industrial solutions division.

GE is also seeking a buyer for its light-bulb manufacturing business, another part of the company’s Energy Connections & Lighting segment. Lighting accounted for even less of the segment’s 2016 revenues (12%) than did industrial solutions (22%). The least profitable division, appliances, has already been sold, leaving grid solutions and power conversion as the segments remaining businesses.

While the sale of the industrial solutions business was first mentioned while former CEO Jeff Immelt was in the corner office, Flannery gets credit for the deal as he puts together his plan to get the GE ship back on a profitable course. He has said he will announce his plans in November.

GE stock closed up about 0.5% last Friday at $24.87 and traded up about 0.1% in Monday’s premarket session. The stock’s 52-week range is $23.58 to $32.38 and the consensus 12-month price target is $28.57. The price target range is $21 to $36.