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General Electric Co.

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General Electric Co.
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General Electric Co. - March 24th, 2006

General Electric Co.

Type Public (NYSE: GE)

Founded 1879

Location Fairfield, Connecticut

Key people
Jeff Immelt, Chairman & CEO
Keith S. Sherin, CFO
Sir William Castell,Executive Vice Chairman
Gary M. Reiner, CIO
Dennis Dammerman,Executive Vice Chairman
Robert Wright, Vice Chairman

Industry Conglomerates

aircraft jet engines
industrial automation
medical imaging equipment
medical software
railway locomotives

Revenue $152.363 Billion USD (2004)

Employees ~315,000 (2004)

Website www.ge.com

The General Electric Company, or GE (NYSE: GE) is a multinational technology and services company. Going into 2005, it was the world's largest corporation in terms of market capitalization [1]. It should not be confused with The General Electric Company plc, which was renamed Marconi plc in 1999.

In the 1960s, peculiarities in U.S. tax laws and accounting practices made it fashionable to assemble conglomerates. GE, which was a conglomerate long before the term was coined, is one of the very few corporations to achieve great success with this kind of organization.


In 1876, Thomas Alva Edison opened a new laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Out of the laboratory was to come perhaps the most famous invention of all—a successful development of the incandescent electric lamp. By 1890, Edison had organized his various businesses into the Edison General Electric Company.

In 1879, Elihu Thomson and Edwin J. Houston formed the rival Thomson-Houston Electric Company. It merged with various companies and was later led by Charles A. Coffin, a former shoe manufacturer from Lynn, Massachusetts. Mergers with competitors and the patent rights owned by each company put them into dominant positions in the electrical industry. As businesses expanded, it became increasingly difficult for either company to produce complete electrical installations relying solely on their own technology. In 1892, these two major companies combined, in a merger arranged by financier J. P. Morgan, to form the General Electric Company, with its headquarters in Schenectady, New York.

In 1896, General Electric was one of the original 12 companies listed on the newly-formed Dow Jones Industrial Average. GE is the only one that remains today.

The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was founded by GE and American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) in 1919 to further international radio. General Electric was one of the eight major computer companies (with IBM - the largest, Burroughs, Scientific Data Systems, Control Data Corporation, Honeywell, RCA and UNIVAC) through most of the 1960s. GE had an extensive line of general purpose and special purpose computers. Among them were the GE 200, GE 400, and GE 600 series general purpose computers, the GE 4010, GE 4020, and GE 4060 real time process control computers, and the Datanet 30 message switching computer. A Datanet 600 computer was designed, but never sold. It has been said that GE got into the computer manufacturing business because in the 1950s they were the largest user of computers outside of the United States federal government. In 1970 GE sold its computer division to Honeywell.

In 1986, GE re-acquired RCA, primarily for the NBC television network. The rest was sold to various companies, including Bertelsmann and Thomson.

In 2004, GE bought the television and movie assets of Vivendi Universal and became the third largest media conglomerate in the world. The new company was named NBC Universal. Also in 2004, GE completed the spinoff of most of its life and mortgage insurance assets into an independent company, Genworth Financial, based in Richmond, Virginia. In that same year, GE also acquired the credit card unit of the department store Dillard's for $1.25 billion.

In 2005, General Electric bought the financial assets of the Canadian airplane manufacturer Bombardier for $1.4 billion [2]

In 2006, General Electric completed the $1.2 billion acquisition of IDX Systems, a medical software company


GE is an enormous multinational industrial company headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut. The company describes itself as composed of a number of primary business units or "businesses." Each "business" is itself a vast enterprise, any of which would, even as a standalone company, rank in the Fortune 500. The list of GE businesses varies over time as the result of acquisitions, divestitures and reorganizations.

GE subsidiaries

Access Distribution
GE Advanced Materials
GE Capital IT Solutions
GE Capital Rail Services
GE Commercial Finance
GE Consumer & Industrial
GE Consumer Finance
GE Energy
GE Engine Services, Inc.
GE Equipment Services
GE Fanuc Automation North America, Inc.
GE Financial Assurance Holdings, Inc.
GE Franchise Finance Corporation
GE Global Research
GE Healthcare
GE Infrastructure
GE Inspection Technologies
GE Insurance
GE Money
GE Osmonics
GE Security
GE Small Business Finance Corporation
GE Supply
GE Transportation
Global Nuclear Fuel - Japan Co., Ltd.
HPSC, Inc.
Instrumentarium Corporation
MRA Systems, Inc.
NBC Universal, Inc.
Transport International Pool Inc.
WMC Mortgage Corp.

Through these businesses, GE participates in a wide variety of markets including the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, lighting, industrial automation, medical imaging equipment, motors, railway locomotives, aircraft jet engine, aviation services and materials such as plastics, silicones and abrasives. It was co-founder and is 80% owner (with Vivendi Universal) of NBC Universal, the National Broadcasting Company. Through GE Commercial Finance, GE Consumer Finance, GE Equipment Services, and GE Insurance it offers a range of financial services as well. It has a presence in over 100 countries.

Interestingly, over half of GE's revenue is derived from financial services, ostensibly making it a financial company with a manufacturing arm. It is also one of the largest lenders in countries other than the United States, such as Japan. Even though the first wave of conglomerates (such as ITT, Ling-Temco-Vought, Tenneco, etc) fell by the wayside by the mid-1980s, in the late 1990s, another wave (consisting of Westinghouse, Tyco, and others) tried and failed to emulate GE's success.

GE's Brand

General Electric has one of, if not the, most valuable corporate brand in the world. CEO Jeffrey Immelt had the new brand commissioned in 2004, after he took the reigns as chairman, in order to unify all the diversified businesses of GE. The brand included a change of the corporate color palette, small modifications to the GE Logo, a new customized font, called GE Inspira, and a new slogan, "imagination at work". The new brand requires many headlines to be lowercased and adds visual "white space" to their documents and advertising to promote an open and approachable company. The new brand was designed by Wolff Olins and can be seen on GE's corporate website. GE BrandCentral[3] is a website dedicated to managing the brand and requests for font and logo usage. Unfortunately, it is closed to the public.

Jack Welch

The CEO from 1981-2001 was Jack Welch, who many regard as one of the premier business managers of his era. Nicknamed "Neutron Jack", he presided over a 28-fold increase in earnings (on a 5-fold increase in revenue) with his policy (referred to by detractors as "rank and yank") of sacking the worst performing 10% of his staff every year. In running GE's many diverse businesses he maintained a policy of only keeping those businesses which were #1 or #2 within their respective industries. In 1987, GE was the United States' second largest nuclear power company and third largest producer of nuclear weapons systems. Jack Welch introduced the use of the six sigma quality system, originally developed at Motorola, within GE.

Corporate information

The company's market capitalization ([4]) is almost $100 billion higher than that of Microsoft ([5]). In 2004, GE was named number one company for employers and employees on the Forbes 500 Global Player list.

Jeffrey Immelt succeeded Jack Welch as CEO of General Electric and holds that office today. Current members of the board of directors of General Electric are: James Cash, Jr., Sir William Castell (Deputy Chairman, and Executive Officer), Dennis Dammerman, Ann Fudge, Claudio Gonzalez, Jeffrey Immelt, Andrea Jung, A.G. Lafley, Robert Lane, Ralph Larsen, Rochelle Lazarus, Sam Nunn, Roger Penske, Robert Swieringa, Douglas Warner, and Bob Wright.

Superfund Sites

General Electric has agreed to pay the Environmental Protection Agency $110 million dollars in order to clean up three superfund sites contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The three superfund sites are composed of a 200 mile stretch along the Hudson River, a section of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, MA and a transformer facility near Rome, GA. General Electric had initially spent $120 million between 1990 and 2005 with public relations and lobbying firms in order to fight responsibility for cleanup costs.[6]

Analyst coverage

Germanotta, Jeffrey (William Blair & Company, L.L.C.)
Cornell, Robert (Lehman Brothers)
Parent, Nicole (Credit Suisse First Boston)
Dray, Deane (Goldman Sachs)


SEC filings including 10-k

External links

General Electric's website
Hotpoint - A Brief Independence

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