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GE likely to hold onto NY digital X-ray detector manufacturing plant — for now

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
General Electric may be adjusting its plans to spin off its entire healthcare division, which could be good news for the 125 workers at its digital X-ray detector manufacturing facility at the Rensselaer Technology Park in North Greenbush, Rensselaer County, NY.

GE has about 4,000 local employees in the area.

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New GE CEO Larry Culp Jr. told a banking conference recently that the scheduled sale of its biopharma interests to Danaher, for $21.4 billion, created solid value, and the signals are that it might be able to retain the imaging business as part of its remaining $17 billion healthcare unit, whose imaging technology also has important industrial uses as well.

"So we think it's a heck of a business," Culp said, according to the Albany Times Union newspaper, adding that, "there are a number of strategic options that we have in and around healthcare over time, but being able to retain so much of the business, improve it and grow it, we think is another way in which we're going to be unlocking value at GE."

GE CFO Jamie Miller also noted that the company “may keep its healthcare diagnostics and imaging businesses after the planned sale of the biopharma unit,” at a recent Deutsche Bank-led conference, according to Reuters.

He noted that the corporate culture is “shifting” under Culp, but that such movements “take time,” according to the wire service.

At a Bernstein conference on May 30, Culp had noted that “part of what we’re doing operationally, I think, ultimately, culturally is really transitioning the way we run the business day-in, day-out to be, if you will, more of an operating-oriented company, business-by-business from the bottom-up, not top-down. We think that helps us unlock real value at GE over time, both in terms of helping us grow share profitabl, and also to accrete margins and improve our overall cash generation,” according to a report on Seeking Alpha.

GE's spinoff deal with Danaher is still officially on track, but according to a report at 24/7 Wall Street, analyst John Inch at Gordon Haskett has noted that a “deterioration” in the life sciences market may make the present price open to renegotiation, which might alter the attractiveness of the deal for either or both parties.

When the deal was announced in February, Danaher's president and CEO, Thomas P. Joyce Jr. said, in a statement, “We expect GE Biopharma to advance our growth and innovation strategy in an important and highly attractive life science market. We see meaningful opportunities to harness the power of the Danaher Business System to further provide GE Biopharma's customers with end-to-end bioprocessing solutions that help enable breakthrough development and production capabilities.”

Also at that time, Culp told CNBC that “an IPO [for GE's healthcare unit] in 2019 looks unlikely at this point.”

Culp sat atop Danaher as CEO and president from 2000 to 2014, joining the GE board in April, 2018, and becoming GE Chairman and CEO when he replaced John Flannery in October, 2018. In April, 2018, Danaher expressed interest in taking the GE Life Sciences unit, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, noted the business news station.

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