By Grace Donnelly
April 12, 2018

General Electric is considering a spinoff or public offering for its GE Transportation business, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Citing people familiar with the strategic review currently in its ninth month at the company, the Journal reported that the company is exploring hybrid deals with public companies. This would allow the transportation unit to combine assets and leave GE shareholders with stakes in multiple public companies.

Ongoing restructuring under CEO John Flannery, who took the helm in August of last year, includes plans to sell $20 billion of the company’s assets. For example, Veritas Capital plans to acquire a GE healthcare unit for $1.05 billion, but the deals announced so far are worth less than $4 billion in total.

GE Transportation, which makes diesel freight locomotives, could be a model for how other parts of the business could be spun off or taken public rather than sold as a whole, according to people familiar with the strategy.

Some pointed to past examples like Baker Hughes, an oil-field services company that is majority owned by GE, and the Dow-DuPont deal, which combined two firms with the idea of eventually becoming three separate companies, as possibilities for how spinoffs might look moving forward.

The transportation unit is worth about $7 billion, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, but it has been hit by declining demand for locomotives and had sales of $4.2 billion last year.

GE was the worst performing stock in the Dow in 2017. This time last year, GE shares were trading at nearly $30, compared to just $13 on Thursday.

The company cut dividends in half, laid off more than 12,000 employees, and slashed executive perks in the last 12 months, but still failed to meet Wall Street earning estimates.

“The pressure on GE to announce some sort of break-up is very high,” analyst Scott Davis of Melius Research wrote in a note to clients last month.

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