May 19, 2009 / 6:23 PM / 10 years ago

GE CEO says has hit 2009 debt goal, starts on 2010

BOSTON (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) has already raised all the money it planned to seek on debt markets for 2009 and may reach its 2010 goal before the year is out, Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said on Tuesday.

Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and cheif executive of General Electric Co, announces a partnership in healthcare technologies with Intel corp during a news conference in New York April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The biggest U.S. conglomerate, which has been working to downsize its finance arm, is confident that it will not need to raise additional equity for its GE Capital arm, Immelt added.

“From a funding standpoint, 2009 is already done,” he told an investor conference in Florida, which was monitored over the Internet. “We’re going to pre-fund a lot of 2010 in 2009, maybe the whole thing.”

The world’s largest maker of jet engines and electricity-producing turbines issued $45 billion of debt to cover its 2009 needs and has already raised $7 billion of the $40 billion targeted for 2010.

GE shares were up 2.4 percent, or 32 cents, at $13.79 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Immelt repeated GE’s forecast that GE Capital would be profitable this year.

“We have plenty of capital — current scenarios don’t require us to raise any outside capital at all,” Immelt said. Last year the company raised $15 billion in a stock offering, with a large stake going to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N).

Asked if the U.S. Federal Reserve, which conducted stress tests of the largest U.S. banks to see if they had enough capital to carry them through the recession, had signaled any interest in evaluating GE, Immelt responded with a flat “no.”

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company makes the bulk of its money through its big industrial businesses, which also produce railroad locomotives and medical imaging devices. Those units are expecting to grow their service and maintenance orders this year, which will help to offset a forecast decline in equipment orders, Immelt said.

He added that GE expects growth in developing economies to be a major driver over the coming years, with the United States and Europe remaining slower, he said.

GE shares have been pounded down about 58 percent in the past year, as profits at its finance arm have fallen, dragging down overall results. That is a sharper decline than the 35 percent drop of the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average .DJI.

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Brian Moss

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