Unstructured Finance

Interview with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt

General Electric CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Immelt gives a speech during a conference on "Establishing healthcare as a source of growth" in Tokyo May 31, 2010.  REUTERS/Yuriko NakaoWatch Reuters Editor at Large Chrystia Freeland’s interview with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Immelt met Chinese President Hu Jintao today and GE is reporting quarterly results this Friday. What’s Immelt’s vision for the manufacturing giant? See the discussion below.

Deals wrap: Novartis sweetens the deal

A general view shows the production plant of the pharmaceutical company Novartis in Schweizerhalle near Basel July 21, 2008. Picture taken July 21, 2008.  REUTERS/Christian Hartmann Novartis has wrapped up its long-awaited buyout of the remainder of U.S.-listed Alcon for $12.9 billion, after sweetening its original offer with cash.

Power producer Dynegy agreed to be bought by Icahn Enterprises, a firm controlled by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, for $665 million in cash. The deal comes after Dynegy rejected Blackstone Group’s $602 million bid in November.

General Electric Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt’s problems have changed an awful lot in the past two years. Worry about a hidden time bomb in its financial arm has been replaced with concerns the company has built up too much cash.

Deals wrap: Dealing with regulation

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange near the Goldman Sachs stall July 16, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidBanks are self-regulating in advance of new financial reforms. Are recent moves by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan “smoke and mirrors” or a way to subtly shift the form of impending regulation? *View analysis *View Q&A on Wall Street reform*Full coverage of regulatory news

“Unlocking the potential of Genzyme’s experimental multiple sclerosis drug Campath could be key to prying a higher price for the U.S. biotech from Sanofi-Aventis,” writes Lewis Krauskopf and Ben Hirschler. *View analysis *View WSJ blog

General Electric is building up its industrial business with a $3 billion bid for Dresser Inc. The deal announcement came the same day as oilfield services company Wellstream rejected GE’s takeover approach. *View article

GE’s Immelt: Wasn’t “naive” on Areva bid

GE/As GE officials have talked up their post-NBC M&A strategy over the past few weeks, they keep coming back to the one that got away — French nuclear reactor maker Areva’s transmission and distribution business. Areva in November decided not to accept bids from U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co or Japanese industrial Toshiba in favor of a bid from a French consortium, in a move that many saw as politically influenced.

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt told investors on Tuesday he was not surprised by that turn of events. “We were never naive about where Areva was going to go,” Immelt said. “We were in but we were not stupid.”

Final chapter of an aviation flirtation?

Throughout 2009, United Technologies Corp Chief Executive Louis Chenevert’s mantra was that the diversified U.S. manufacturer was a “willing buyer” with a $2 billion takeover budget and that all it needed was to find a “willing seller.”

Its deal last week to buy General Electric Co’s security business for $1.82 billion answered the question of what the world’s largest maker of elevators and air conditioners was going to do with its M&A budget.

But one question was left unanswered — what of Textron Inc’s Bell helicopter unit? An executive at United Tech’s Sikorsky arm in March said that a merger with Bell was an “interesting hypothesis.”

GE: bringing small things to life

GENERALELECTRIC/With talk about a multibillion-dollar deal to sell NBC Universal to Comcast burbling away, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt popped the top on a $250 million venture fund designed to buy stakes in small healthcare technology companies.

“What we’re trying to do is embrace the venture community, try and do a series of early-stage and later-stage type investments,” Immelt said in an interview. “We don’t do everything inside our four walls.”

Competing venture capitalists might consider Immelt’s embrace more of a bear hug. GE is taking a similar approach to the energy industry. It has a stake in A123 Systems, the battery maker that was one of the best-received initial public offerings of the year. Scott Malone, our reporter who interviewed Immelt, notes that taking stakes in smaller companies rather than buying them outright gives GE more flexibility. It gains exposure to a wider array of technologies, any one of which could take off.

Did he say IPO?

Speaking in New Delhi, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt said “Discussions are ongoing whether it is an IPO or another partnership,” in response to a question on whether GE was talking to Comcast to sell a stake in the fourth-placed TV network and movie studio. With Vivendi possibly just a couple weeks away from unloading its 20 percent stake in the NBC venture, and all the talk this week about Comcast gathering coins to add the content trove to its cable mix, it might seem as if Immelt is trying to conjure something like a rabbit from a hat – or a peacock from a beret.

GE and Comcast are discussing a deal under which the largest U.S. cable firm would take control of 51 percent of NBC Universal with GE, which has the right of first refusal to pick up Vivendi’s stake if the French company exercises its annual option to sell, taking the rest. “The capital markets have definitely improved,” Immelt said. There is reason to see stability and some optimism for the future,” he said.

Set aside for a moment that the sickly advertising market that NBC already faces. The market for IPOs is picking up nicely right now, but is still in an early stage of recovery, making do with a ragtag bunch of real estate investment trusts and Chinese new-market plays. What effect do you think a big media play splashing into that pool would have on investor demand for new issues?

GE’s Immelt’s subtle defense

General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt went to Michigan, the bleeding heart of the U.S. industrial heartland, on Friday to call for a resurgence in American manufacturing.Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, speaks after being honored by the national non-profit group "A Better Chance" in New York
But even as he warned against relying too heavily on the financial industry to drive economic growth, he subtly set up a defense of the largest U.S. conglomerate’s hefty finance arm.

Analysts and investors are worried that the Obama administration’s proposed overhaul of U.S. financial regulations could force GE to spin off GE Capital, which has businesses ranging from leasing jet planes to investing in commercial real estate.

“We also need a financial system that is built around helping industrial companies to succeed,” Immelt told the Detroit Economic Club. “GE is an important part of this financial services approach. We plan to focus GE Capital on financing small- and medium-sized customers in industries that we know the best.”

Job Bank, Nov. 26

The following financial services industry appointments were announced on Nov. 26, linked where possible to personal profiles on LinkedIn. To inform us of other job changes, please e-mail moves@thomsonreuters.com.

FORTIS GROUP

The chief investment officer of the Indian asset management arm of Fortis Group, K.C. Reddy, has quit to join a Swiss bank.

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP

Jarrod Haggerty
, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s (PwC) Forensic Services team, will take on the new role of Chief Information Officer on a six-month secondment at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Mr Haggerty starts at the SFO in December.

GE cuts forecast… so?

ge.jpgHow big is the $700 billion financial bailout package for the markets? Big enough that a change in perception as to whether it will pass can overshadow a cut in outlook from industrial and financial powerhouse General Electric.
 
Initially down after GE slashed its quarterly and full-year forecast, Dow Jones futures turned higher in later pre-market trade on optimism that the bailout will go ahead with only minimal friction in Congress. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said persistent woes in its finance arms, which account for half of its business, were to blame for the dimmed outlook. 
 
GE stunned Wall Street in April with an unexpected drop in first-quarter profit. It blamed the global credit crunch and the collapse of Bear Stearns for pushing its finance arms lower. These are the businesses at the root of the outlook problems now. At least the market is getting some warning this time — in the spring, GE sprung the bad news on investors in its results statement.
 
GE shares were down early, sagging to $23.50, off more than $1 from Wednesday’s close. If they hit $20.25 they will have lost half of their value since Immelt became CEO. 
 
Given the size and breadth of its financial biz, it would be no surprise to see GE in line for some bailout money. But the company seems to be saying it is fully capable of managing its own problems for now. If the market starts to sense, though, that the profitable parts of GE, the industrial stuff, will be the next shoe to drop in the economic slowdown…look out.

Deals of the day:

* Washington Mutual , the large U.S. savings and loan company beleaguered by mortgage losses, has approached private-equity firms about a potential takeover after a line-up of listed firms showed reluctance, the Wall Street Journal said citing people familiar with the situation

* Hynix Semiconductor said it would sell part of its stake in a Chinese joint venture to partner Numonyx for $100 million, as Numonyx seeks to raise its control over the Hynix-led chip plant.

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