General Electric expects to miss German growth target

FRANKFURT, July 8 Mon Jul 8, 2013 12:54pm EDT

FRANKFURT, July 8 (Reuters) - General Electric Co will miss its growth target for its German business after Europe's biggest economy suffered a slump in industrial orders last year, the U.S. conglomerate's European head said.

"We are growing very well. But due to last year's economic weakness we will not manage to double sales from 2011 to 2015," Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco told German newspaper Die Welt.

Germany's industrial sector - which includes companies such as General Electric (GE), Siemens or GEA - has for months suffered weak orders both domestically and from euro zone countries held back by austerity measures.

This has underscored fragility in the country's economy and disappointed hopes it might support regional growth.

GE has about 7,500 employees in Germany, where it focuses on green technology, medical technology, research and development as well as financial services.

Beccalli-Falco said orders had bottomed out at the end of last year, however.

"In the first half of the year, orders in Europe picked up again, especially in Germany," Die Welt quoted him as saying in an excerpt of an article to be published on Tuesday.

His comments came after GE celebrated the 130-year anniversary of its German operations on Monday in a ceremony in Berlin attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

Beccalli-Falco also said that GE had held takeover talks with a number of medium-sized companies whose technology would have fit GE's portfolio.

"We didn't reach any agreement, but if there was another opportunity we would take it," he said.

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