24/7 Wall St. Exclusive: GE CEO Jeff Immelt Interview (GE)

GE has always been known as an acquirer.  Do you envision any great growth opportunities that are outside of the company right now?

  • Immelt: “Our first priority is going to be to continue to invest in the franchises we have today, both on an organic and inorganic basis.  Energy, health care, things like that.  One thing I would say is that we have always talked about ‘adjacencies.’  If you think about the last decade, we got into renewable energy, we got into oil and gas, and we got into avionics.  These were businesses that we were not in before but they are near neighbors off the business we had.  That is what you can expect to see, you can expect to see us get into home health, get into batteries.  We always have about five or ten ‘adjacencies’ we are working on at any given time.  From where I sit right now, I don’t see a brand new GE business.  We’ve got plenty of growth opportunities where we are.”

As far batteries, this is something that has come up before in prior conversations with Keith Sherin.  Is there a direction you are going in the batteries?

  • Immelt: “We have two big investments.  One we have an equity stake in A123 Batteries (NASDAQ: AONE) for lithium and about the transportation industry.  And we have an investment in sodium batteries which is organic, and that is more targeted toward energy storage, uninterrupted power supply, temporary power, and things like that.  Those are our two big investments, and I think it is a nascent industry.  Nobody knows for sure what the endgame is technically, but we want to have three or four bets because I think in general we believe batteries are going to be a good business.”

GE has constantly been about themes.  At a previous engagement this week with the communications team, this was all about individual themes.  GE seems to be very much a “parts of the sum” theme rather than a “sum of the parts” theme.

  • Immelt: “I think the two big pillars of the brand are clean energy and affordable health care that are absolutely important for the strength of the brand.  Inside the company, I always think it is about people, developing leaders.  Process, capabilities, risk management, and about growth.  The big core themes under the hood of the car are about people, process, and growth.  The brand is built on two pillars, and that is affordable heath care and clean energy… big societal problems.”

Thank you very much for your time.


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