Exclusive: GE nears deal to merge transportation unit with Wabtec - sources

 Exclusive: GE nears deal to merge transportation unit with Wabtec - sources

By Harry Brumpton and Greg Roumeliotis

(Reuters) - General Electric Co is nearing a deal to merge its transportation business, which manufactures train engines, with Wabtec Corp, a U.S. maker of equipment for the rail industry, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

A deal valuing the combined business at more than $20 billion could be announced as early as this week, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.

It would be the biggest deal thus far to be inked by GE Chief Executive Officer John Flannery, who took over last August with a mandate to slash costs and boost the U.S. industrial conglomerate’s plummeting stock price.

There is always a possibility that the deal talks, which center on using a tax-efficient structure called a Reverse Morris Trust, could collapse at the last minute, the sources cautioned.

GE and Wabtec did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Flannery told GE’s annual shareholder meeting last month that the company is "keenly aware of the pain" caused by its poor performance and dividend cut last year. Executives are trying to turn around the ailing power and oil and gas businesses, he told shareholders, adding that there is evidence of "green shoots" of improvement.

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.

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

Wabtec, which has a market capitalization of $9.2 billion, manufactures equipment for locomotives, freight cars, and passenger transit vehicles.

(Reporting by Harry Brumpton and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Updated Date: May 21, 2018 00:05:27 IST