* To invest $500 mln on R&D, $1.5 bln on tech, financial JVs
* Four energy and rail JVs already signed
* Innovation centers planned for Chengdu, Shenyang, Xi‘an
(Adds executive comment, details)
BEIJING, Nov 9 (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) will invest more than $2 billion in China through 2012 to expand its research and development and customer support capabilities, the company’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
GE, the largest U.S. conglomerate, will spend $500 million on R&D and more than $1.5 billion on technology and financial services joint ventures, CEO Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement during a visit to Beijing.
“The new joint ventures are in line with our strategy to build partnerships in China to support our business here and globally,” said Immelt.
China is an increasingly important market for GE as the country continues to build infrastructure and expands and upgrades its airports and airline fleets.
GE has already signed four energy and rail joint venture agreements with Chinese state-owned firms, according to the statement.
Two of the agreements are with units of China’s State Grid, the country’s largest power grid operator, one to manufacture and market grid monitoring and diagnostic products and another to buy a controlling stake in a Shanghai-based green power distribution equipment maker.
GE also signed agreements with a unit of China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp to develop components for diesel locomotives and with the Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signal and Communication to supply railway and urban transit signaling systems.
The company also plans to spend $500 million on customer innovation centers in six cities, said Immelt. The first three of those are in Chengdu, Shenyang and Xi‘an.
GE provided no details about the planned financial services joint ventures.
Reporting by Terril Jones; Editing by Don Durfee and Ken Wills