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GE seeks sale of asset management arm amid industrial push

General Electric
Goh Seng Chong | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Electric said on Thursday it would seek to sell its asset management arm to an investment management firm, as the U.S. conglomerate continues to make moves to focus on its industrial products.

GE Asset Management had $115 billion in assets under management as of June 30, according to GE, and manages retirement plans for the vast majority of GE's 136,000 U.S. employees as well as assets for outside institutional investors including third-party retirement plans.

The plan to unload the asset management arm comes after GE announced in April it would seek to sell some $200 billion worth of its GE Capital assets as it moves away from financial services and focuses more on manufacturing jet engines, power turbines and other big-ticket industrial equipment. GE Asset Management is separate from GE Capital.

The company said proceeds from the transaction would be deposited into the GE Pension Trust, increasing trust assets used to pay GE pension plan benefits. GE will retain responsibilities as plan sponsor and fiduciary following any sale, and is appointing an independent fiduciary to review the transaction.

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said there had been "significant interest" over time from investment firms in acquiring the business.

"As we continue to transform GE to focus on our industrial core, now is the right time to explore such a sale," Immelt said in a statement.

GE Asset Management has about 300 employees, most in Stamford, Connecticut, where the unit is based.

GE said it hired Credit Suisse as its investment banker in the transaction.

GE shares were up 1 percent at $24.79 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.