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GE Pursued By Multiple Bidders: Blankenship

More than five majap manufacturers and over 30 private-equity firms were prepared to pursue GE Appliances after last year’s planned purchase by Electrolux fell through, the vendor’s chief executive said.

In his first interview with local media following last month’s acquisition agreement with Haier Group, GE Appliances president/CEO Charles “Chip” Blankenship told Louisville, Ky., TV station WDRB that his company’s recent performance proved attractive to suitors, and fetched a higher price than Electrolux’s original offer.

He said Electrolux’s $3.3 billion offer, made in 2014, was based on GE’s 2013 profits while Haier’s $5.4 billion bid was based on 2014 and 2015 results. Haier pegged GE’s net income at $400 million for 2014, and said earnings rose nearly 50 percent the following year.

Blankenship, a former GE jet engine scientist and VP, attributed the gains to a three-year, $1 billion capital infusion by its corporate parent, which has fueled “our business capability, our manufacturing capability [and] our design capability to have better overall business performance.”

He said Haier plans to keep GE’s current management team intact in Kentucky, and will allow it to continue investing about 4 percent of annual sales on R&D.

He added that it was too soon to tell what plans, if any, the Chinese appliance giant may have to meld GE’s operations with those of Haier America.

Haier’s U.S. arm, led by Whirlpool alum Adrian Micu, is headquartered in Wayne, N.J., and maintains production facilities in Camden, S.C.

GE’s headquarters and famed Appliance Park manufacturing complex are located in Louisville.

The deal is expected to close by mid-year.