By John Kell and Alan Murray
July 2, 2015

Google the phrase “Jeff Immelt’s Best Friend” and you will get pictures of the GE CEO with President Obama – a reminder of how hard he has worked over the last seven years to build good relations with the Democratic administration. But that did him little good late yesterday when the Justice Department filed suit to stop GE’s $3.3 billion sale of its appliance business to Electrolux, saying it would result in a “duopoly” for major cooking appliances. Both GE and Electrolux said they will continue to push for the sale — but we can guess how this story ends.



Meanwhile, Immelt’s lieutenant Steve Bolze is doing battle today in Brussels with European Commission officials over its $14 billion deal to buy Alstom’s energy business. Regulators say that deal will give GE too large a share of the market for heavy-duty gas turbines. GE says it is “confident” it can win regulator’s approval — but we’ve seen this play before, too, with the GE-Honeywell merger blocked by European regulators in 2001.



The two stalled transactions mean Immelt’s effort to remake his company is now on the ropes. Which could explain why he sounded so frustrated about government regulation when he was interviewed recently by Fortune’s Pattie Sellers. “We are going to live in a world for a long time with more government intervention, more regulation,” he said. “This is just part of a big, I think, social trend. And it’s not just the U.S., it’s China, it’s Europe, it’s all over the world.”


More below.


Alan Murray


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