Business News

GE Capital deal shows 'focused is beautiful': CEO

GE cashes out and changes its ways

General Electric was late to the party in selling off much of its finance arm, but its announcement to do so is another sign that "focused is beautiful," Maeva Group's chairman and CEO said Monday.

"It doesn't just have to be small. It has to be focused," Harry Wilson said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "The notion of size for size's sake I think is an outmoded idea that probably didn't even make sense even once upon a time, and certainly doesn't make sense in today's economy."

GE signaled it would focus on its industrials business when it announced on Friday the sale of the majority of its assets held in its GE Capital Unit. The company said it would return $50 billion to shareholders through stock buybacks.

The pendulum is swinging away from large conglomerates and toward a more focused notion, said Wilson, whose consulting business specializes in restructurings.

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Some conglomerates with disparate parts will continue to get a pass because they are still performing well or have respected managers, he said. Wilson included Berkshire Hathaway, United Technologies and Illinois Tool Works among them.

He pointed to Xerox as a company where the competitive environment has changed so much that its business mix no longer makes sense.

While Wilson believes Xerox chief Ursula Burns has built up a "great" services business with competitive advantage and long-term contracts, he said its legacy hardware business is shrinking.

"There's not much anyone can do about it. Does it make sense for the services business to be clouded by the hardware business?" he asked.

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