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.