Once mighty conglomerate GE to split into three units

New standalone businesses will focus on healthcare, power and aviation.

The move to split GE into three separate units essentially ends the sprawling empire built by Jack Welch and his predecessors [File: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg]

General Electric Co. will split into three separate companies, breaking up the once-mighty conglomerate into standalone businesses focused on health care, power and aviation. The shares surged.

The health unit will be spun off in early 2023, according to a statement Tuesday. GE will combine its renewable energy, power equipment and digital businesses into a separate unit that will then be spun off in early 2024. The remaining company will consist of GE Aviation, the company’s engine-manufacturing operation.

The move ends years of speculation about the future of GE, long one of the most admired U.S. companies but one that’s struggled since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. Since then it’s been retrenching from its once sprawling conglomerate structure, including the sale of the bulk of the GE Capital finance arm.

“Today is a defining moment for GE, and we are ready,” Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp said in the statement.

Since taking the helm in 2018, Culp has shed interests in businesses ranging from pharmaceutical manufacturing to aircraft leasing. This will be his most sweeping and significant move to date, essentially ending the sprawling GE built by Jack Welch and his predecessors.

GE shares jumped as much as 17% in premarket U.S. trading.

Each company will be better positioned to serve its customers, benefiting from greater focus, accountability and agility, GE said.

With operational improvements to boost cash flow and profit margins, GE is on target to have reduced its debt burden by more than $75 billion over three years by the end of 2021, the company said. There are opportunities for further progress, it said in an investor presentation.

(Updates with debt reduction, comment from Culp from fourth paragraph)

Source: Bloomberg