European engineering companies ABB (SIX: ABBN) and Schneider Electric (EPA: SU) have emerged as suitors for the industrial solutions division of GE (NYSE: GE), just a day after GE completed its $1.65 billion purchase of LM Wind Power from Doughty Hanson. The unit could fetch up to $3 billion, according to Reuters, and more importantly, should satisfy the demands of Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners.
The activist investor, which owns 66.8 million of GE’s 8.71 billion outstanding shares as of March 22, has jumped on board with the massive conglomerate’s sustained commitment to reducing its industrial structural costs over the next two years from 2016’s $24.9 billion to $22.9 billion in 2018 in order to streamline the organization. Last month, GE announced that, after discussion with Trian, it had set an industrial operating profit target of $17.2 billion for this year as part of its larger effort to focus on its core operations.
GE’s divestments in recent years include selling its remaining stake in NBCUniversal to Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) for $16.7 billion in 2013. In total, it has spun off some 54 companies since the beginning of 2010, according to the PitchBook Platform. Last year accounted for its largest number of completed deals in that timeframe.
GE has spread its love of the sell-off across the many industries in which it operates, with B2B comprising 30% of its total deal count, energy representing another 24% and financial services accounting for 18%. For comparison, over the same period, Siemens (ETR: SIE) has shed holdings in 44 companies, with B2B representing 45% of its total divestment deal count, followed by energy at 26%, again per the Platform.
PE firms KKR, Clayton Dubilier & Rice, Warburg Pincus and Onex are also reportedly in the running for GE’s industrial solutions business.
GE has reported earnings for 1Q of $619 million after preferred dividends, with its total consolidated revenue having dropped about 1% to $27.66 billion. Since the start of the year, GE has shed some $2 per share, dipping from $31.69 on January 3 to Friday’s close of $29.55, a drop on the day of just over 2%. GE has a market cap of roughly $260 billion.
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Article by Adam Putz, PitchBook