General Electric (GE), which spent billions to become the largest shareholder in Baker Hughes Inc., said Tuesday it plans to “fully separate” its 62.5% interest within three years.
GE last year completed a merger combining its oilfield services business with the legacy Houston operator to create Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE).
However, GE was facing headwinds before the takeover was completed, and strength in BHGE’s quarterly results have been slow to materialize. Other units also have been pressured, with GE Power, its largest industrial business unit, late last year downsizing by 18%, citing depressed demand for natural gas and coal services, and a surge toward alternative energies.
Following a corporate-wide strategic review, GE announced it is shaking up its businesses, including plans for BHGE.
“GE plans to fully separate its 62.5% interest in BHGE in an orderly manner over the next two to three years,” management said. “BHGE’s full-stream offering brings together equipment, services and digital solutions to help its customers be more productive -- a unique and powerful value proposition in a changing market.”
The separation would provide BHGE with enhanced agility and the ability to focus on leading in the oil and gas industry, management said.
The company said it plans to focus on aviation, power and renewable energy, “creating a simpler, stronger, leading high-tech industrial company.” In addition to BHGE, healthcare would become a standalone company. Overall, the revamp offers a “clear path” to reduce debt by $25 billion, with a leaner corporate structure.
“GE Healthcare and BHGE are excellent examples of GE at its best -- anticipating customer needs, breaking barriers through innovation and delivering life-changing products and services,” said CEO John Flannery. The board’s actions “unlock both a pure-play healthcare company and a tier-one oil and gas servicing and equipment player.
“We are confident that positioning GE Healthcare and BHGE outside of GE’s current structure is best not only for GE and its owners, but also for these businesses, which will strengthen their market-leading positions and enhance their ability to invest for the future, while carrying the spirit of GE forward.”