GE explores divesting its transportation, healthcare IT businesses: sources

(Reuters) - General Electric Co GE.N is exploring divesting its transportation and healthcare information technology businesses, as it seeks to reshape its portfolio under new Chief Executive John Flannery, people familiar with the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: The ticker and logo for General Electric Co. is displayed on a screen at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S. on June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Such a move would help GE to meet more than half of its stated goal of shedding more than $20 billion worth of assets, the sources said this week. There is no certainty that GE will proceed with these divestitures, the sources added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. GE declined to comment.

The move would make GE the latest U.S. industrial conglomerate to go ahead with asset divestitures after Honeywell International Inc HON.N announced earlier this month it would part with some of its businesses by creating two new publicly listed companies.

Ed Garden, a founding partner at activist investor Trian Fund Management who was recently given a board seat at GE, has also acted as a catalyst for change.

GE is looking to bounce back after what Flannery earlier this month called horrible results in the third quarter. He has argued that GE’s strong businesses are being held back by others that “drain investment and management resources without the prospect for a substantial reward.”

GE’s transportation business, which generated revenue of $4.7 billion in 2016, manufactures freight and passenger trains, marine diesel engines and mining equipment, among other products.

GE’s healthcare information technology business, which would likely have to be broken up into separate chunks in the event of a sale, assists with electronic medical records, healthcare workforce management, and hospital revenue cycle management. Some of its better known brands include API Healthcare, which it acquired in 2014, and Centricity EMR.

The business is part of GE’s sprawling healthcare business, which had revenue last year of $18.3 billion and spans magnetic imaging, medical diagnostics and drug discovery.

GE has taken several actions to prune its portfolio over the years, shedding plastics, NBCUniversal and most of its GE Capital business. It also combined its oilfield services business with Baker Hughes BHGE.N.

Last week, GE cut its profit forecast for the full year to $1.05 to $1.10 a share, from $1.60 to $1.70 previously, and said it would generate only about $7 billion in cash from operations, down from $12 billion to $14 billion it had forecast earlier. It left its dividend unchanged.

Weak performance in GE’s power and oil and gas businesses, goodwill impairment and higher-than-expected restructuring costs were the main causes of the profit decline.

Reporting by Carl O’Donnell and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Additional reporting by Alwyn Scott in San Francisco; Editing by Phil Berlowitz