General Electric

Eyeing Siemens' Home Turf

General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt speaks at the Boston College Chief Executives Club in the Boston Harbor Hotel in Boston, Thursday, March 24, 2016. Immelt discussed his company's impending move from Fairfield, Conn., to Boston at a meeting of business executives. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
General Electric Chairman Jeffrey Immelt is ready to go shopping.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If General Electric acquires new firms, its additional reach and expertise could help it beat rivals such as Siemens.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Jeff Immelt became CEO at General Electric in 2001.
    • General Electric sells gas turbines, medical devices and engines. In 2015, the company registered $117 billion in revenues.
    • Some of GE’s main competitors are Munich-based Siemens and Zurich-listed ABB.
  • Audio

    Audio

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For many years, General Electric – the world’s largest industrial group – played only a minor role in the European market. The company maintained a very strong focus on the domestic U.S. market, with growth potential expected mostly from emerging economies such as China or Brazil.

But now of all times, when Europe is troubled by financial woes and the refugee crisis, GE is changing its course. The first step in this new direction was the largest takeover in GE’s history last year, when the company acquired large parts of French engineering group Alstom. But this venture has not yet satisfied GE’s drive for expansion in Europe and, more specifically, in Germany.

“Germany’s small and medium-sized enterprises and car manufacturers represent some of the best companies in the world. It simply is the place to be. And we definitely want to improve in Germany,” Jeff Immelt, chief executive of GE, told Handelsblatt. The top manager also signaled that he is open for additional acquisitions.

GE is a long-standing rival and role model of growth for the Munich-based Siemens group. Both companies make wind turbines, power converters and train locomotives, but with $117 billion in revenue, $28 billion of which is realized in Europe, GE is larger than Siemens by a wide margin. Lately, Siemens has been able to gain some ground under its incumbent CEO, Joe Kaeser, achieving a turnover of €76 billion, or $86 billion last year.

But now Mr. Immelt has decided to launch a counter offensive.

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