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GE Restarts Auction for Appliance Business

Stocks in this article: GE WHR BX GS

GE in 2008 hired Goldman Sachs (GS) to shop its appliance business. Despite reportedly attracting some interest from suitors including LG Electronics, China's Haier Group, Arcelik of Turkey and Controladora Mabe of Mexico, GE was unable to complete a deal amid the period's economic turmoil.

The company in recent years has turned its attention towards higher-margin businesses, including in energy and healthcare, and was long expected to eventually try again to sell the appliance unit. A sale now would help GE recoup part of the €11.4 billion ($15.5 billion) price it agreed in June to pay for the power unit of France's Alstom.

The GE appliance business generates about $8 billion in annual sales, or about 5.6% of total company revenue, but has experienced slow growth and low profit margins. The unit was responsible for less than 2% of General Electric's overall profit last year, and ranks as an increasingly insignificant portion of the conglomerate's nearly $150 billion in annual sales.

GE earlier said it could sell up to $4 billion worth of non-financial businesses this year in addition to financial services divestitures. In July, the company spun off the North American consumer lending operations of its GE Capital operation to shareholders.

A deal with Electrolux could be complicated by potential antitrust concerns. A combination of Electrolux and GE Appliance would bring together the second- and third-largest U.S. vendors, respectively, and would rival market leader Whirlpool  (WHR).

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