GE Considers Sale of Appliances Unit

Slow growth spurs 'strategic options' search for century-old business.

Facing a weak U.S. market, General Electric Co. may unload its appliances division or seek a joint venture for the 101-year-old business unit, the company said May 16.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based company is considering a sale, spin-off or strategic partnership to focus on "faster-growth" opportunities, said Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt in a statement. The move is part of a company trend that began in 2003 to sell slower-growth and more volatile businesses, Immelt said.

Weak consumer spending and a declining housing market have hurt the $7.2 billion business unit based in Louisville, Ky.

"Its fortunes are tied to the rise and fall of a single market," Immelt said. "We want to make this good business great again by finding the right strategic solutions - a solution that will give appliances the global reach and investment required to compete more effectively."

Analysts estimate sales in the appliance business are likely to decline between 10% and 12% this year, according to the Associated Press. That stems from weak consumer spending and a drop in home improvement sales and residential construction.

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