General Electric looks to sell appliance unit: report

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - General Electric Company is looking to sell its appliance unit in an auction that could bring in $5 billion to $8 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site recently.

GE, the second-largest U.S. company by market capitalization, had no immediate comment on the report, said spokesman Jeff DeMarrais.

The company has hired Goldman Sachs to advise on a possible sale, the Journal said. Goldman officials declined comment.

While GE's appliance unit, which makes refrigerators, stoves and other so-called "white goods," is one of its most visible to consumers, the business made up about 4 percent of the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company's $173 billion in revenue last year.

But it is dear to some of the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company's employees and retirees, one of whom pleaded with Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt at the shareholders' meeting last month not to sell the unit.

Under Immelt, GE has worked to shed slower-growth businesses including the company's plastics unit, where Immelt spent the early part of his career. It sold that business, last year to Riyadh-based chemicals company Saudi Basic Industries Corp 2010.SE in an $11.6 billion deal.

But the pressure has ramped up since the company stunned Wall Street last month with an unexpected drop in quarterly profit. That news punished GE's shares, which are now down about 12 percent for the year, a far deeper decline than the 3 percent slide of the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average, of which GE is a component.

GE has also put its U.S. private label credit card and Japanese consumer lending units on the block.


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