In the broadest restructuring since the GE Capital unit destabilized its parent during the 2008-09 financial crisis, GE plans to unload its middle-market lending business and consumer platforms while keeping only the operations that support its manufacturing arms. Potential buyers have made a “significant amount” of inquiries, GE Capital CEO Keith Sherin said.
The shares surged the most in almost five years on GE’s news, which included authorization of a stock buyback of as much as $50 billion. GE also said it’s working with U.S. regulators to get below the threshold to be designated a systemically important financial institution.
GE’s moves are an “overwhelming positive,” Steven Winoker, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst who rates the shares as outperform, said in a note to clients. While Winoker said he was counting on GE to eventually divest more of GE Capital, “what we did not expect was the speed with which management would move to undertake this transformation.”
By 2018, “high-value industrials” will generate more than 90 percent of earnings, up from 58 percent last year, according to GE, whose product lines include jet engines, oilfield equipment and diesel locomotives. GE Capital will be formally merged into GE as part of the shift.
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