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GE Shedding Businesses to Preserve Core; Current Goes to Private Equity Firm AIP

Nov. 16, 2018
Current would maintain use of the GE brand under a licensing agreement.

General Electric (GE), Boston, has signed a proposed agreement to sell its Current, powered by GE business to American Industrial Partners (AIP), a New York-based private equity firm that focuses on buying, improving and growing industrial businesses. The company also completed the sale of its GE Distributed Power business to the private equity group Advent International for $3.25 billion in a deal announced in June.

The moves come as GE works to generate cash flow and regain shareholder favor after a string of disappointing results drove its share prices to the lowest levels seen in many years.

Current is a provider of energy efficiency and digital productivity solutions for commercial offices, retail stores, industrial facilities and cities. Its commercial technology portfolio includes LED and traditional lighting solutions, plus a wide variety of connected sensors, controls and software. As part of the proposed sale, Current would maintain use of the GE brand under a licensing agreement.

The North American consumer lighting business of GE Lighting is not included as part of the proposed transaction. GE said it remains actively engaged in the process to sell this business. President and CEO Maryrose Sylvester will continue to lead the Current business under AIP ownership.

“American Industrial Partners would be a great home for Current moving forward. The firm’s deep expertise in operations and engineering, combined with its highly successful track record of industrial business investments, would help us accelerate Current’s growth,” said Sylvester in GE’s release announcing the deal. “We look forward to partnering with the AIP team to further establish Current as a leader in the rapidly growing IoT lighting space.”

GE Distributed Power, now rebranded as INNIO, is best known for manufacturing the Jenbacher and Waukesha gas engines that generate electricity for towns and factories around the world. GE acquired Jenbacher, manufacturer of gas engines, in 2003. GE acquired the Waukesha brand when it bought Dresser Inc. in 2011. Whereas the largest Jenbacher gas engine can generate as much as 10 MW — enough to supply a small town – Waukesha engines typically serve the midstream oil and gas industry segment and can operate in harsh and remote environments.

“This is an exciting time to emerge as a stand-alone energy company,” said Carlos Lange, president and CEO of INNIO. “With the continued growth of renewables across the globe and the increased emphasis on energy efficiency, INNIO is well-positioned to be a key enabler and integral part of the energy transformation.”

INNIO’s headquarters will be in Jenbach, Austria, but the business also has operations in Welland, Ontario, and Waukesha, WI.

Outside of its electrical businesses, GE has agreed to sell a $4 billion stake in oilfield services company Baker Hughes, but will keep a controlling interest, and its locomotive and part of its health care businesses.