By The Associated Press - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – General Electric is saying goodbye to 30 Rock — the…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – General Electric is saying goodbye to 30 Rock — the building and the TV business born there.
It’s another step in GE’s efforts to focus on less glamorous — but theoretically more profitable — ventures such as manufacturing medical imaging equipment, airplane engines and electrical generators.
The Fairfield, Connecticut, company announced Tuesday that it is selling its 49 per cent stake in NBCUniversal to Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable TV operator, for $16.7 billion. Comcast had bought a majority stake in the television and movie company in January 2011 and was expected to buy out GE’s remaining stake over the next several years.
General Electric will use the money to accelerate its share repurchase program to approximately $10 billion in 2013.
“This transaction allows us to significantly increase the cash we plan to return to shareholders in 2013, to approximately $18 billion, and to continue to invest in our industrial business,” GE CEO Jeff Immelt said in a statement.
GE is giving up its stake in one of America’s best-known brands.
The sale includes the NBC broadcast network, which airs everything from “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” to “The Office” and “The Biggest Loser.” The company also owns cable networks Bravo, CNBC, Telemundo, USA and the Golf Channel. There’s also Universal Pictures, which over its 100 years has offered movies including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” ”The Sting,” ”Jurassic Park” and “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”
GE’s capital unit will also sell the floors NBCUniversal occupies in the iconic 30 Rockefeller Center building in New York as well as property in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, for $1.4 billion.
The sale of the Rockefeller Center floors includes naming rights to the building, which has featured giant red “GE” letters at its top since 1988, a prominent part of the New York skyline.
A spokesman for Philadelphia-based Comcast did not immediately comment on the company’s plans for the 1933 Art Deco building.
GE’s history with NBC goes back to 1919, when it co-founded the Radio Corporation of America, or RCA. The company pioneered commercial radio broadcasting. In 1926, RCA launched a television arm: the National Broadcasting Company, or NBC. Within two years, it had started the first regularly scheduled U.S. television programming in Schenectady, New York, then the site of GE headquarters.
GE sold its stake in RCA in 1932. But in 1986, GE ended up acquiring RCA, selling off its record label and television-manufacturing business. All that remained was NBC.
During the GE years, NBC was home to a number of hits including “Friends,” ”Seinfeld,” ”ER,” ”Frasier,” and the “West Wing.” Millions of American tuned in each night to watch the network’s lineup, which was sold as “Must See TV.”
In 2009, GE sold its majority ownership of NBCUniversal to Comcast for $8 billion in cash and reduced its ownership share from 80 per cent to 49 per cent. Tuesday’s sale of the remaining stake gives GE cash to focus on its industrial businesses, such as building train locomotives, wind turbines and lights.
In 2007, just before the financial crisis hit with full force, GE’s finance arm accounted for about 55 per cent of the company’s earnings, according to spokesman Seth Martin. NBCUniversal contributed about $3 billion of the company’s $22 billion in operating profit.
In 2012, GE’s industrial segment — including a growing energy-infrastructure business — had a profit of $15.49 billion, compared with $7.4 billion from GE Capital.
General Electric CEO Immelt said that Tuesday’s sale of NBCUniversal will allow his company to “accelerate our investment in our core businesses.”
Showbiz might be sexy, but for GE the profit apparently is in manufacturing the devices that generate the power for our TVs.
By Erica Alini - Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM - 0 Comments
Are manufacturing jobs are making a comeback?
Eighteen thousand is an abysmal number when it indicates the number of jobs the world’s biggest economy created in a month. Unfortunately, that’s how many new positions U.S. employers added in June, the Department of Labor announced two weeks ago—a bulletin that sank the hopes of the country’s 14 million unemployed. Yet, there is at least one sector of the U.S. economy that seems poised for expansion, bringing with it a much-needed fistful of new jobs: manufacturing.
Assembly lines and factories—which seemed to be going the way of the dinosaurs in recent decades in North America—are making a comeback. The Boston Consulting Group predicts “a manufacturing renaissance” in the U.S. in the next five years, courtesy of rising wages in China and high fuel prices, which make it more convenient for companies to relocate production lines back home. With Chinese workers pocketing wage increases of about 17 per cent per year, the yuan appreciating, and U.S. states such as Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama offering flexible work rules and government incentives, the difference between production costs in China and the U.S. will “drop to single digits or be erased entirely” in certain sectors in the next few years, notes the BCG. Last week, General Electric said its U.S. manufacturing operations will grow this year, as labour becomes a smaller component of its costs. Caterpillar Inc. announced last year the expansion of its U.S. operations, a move expected to add 500 new jobs—or 2.7 per cent of the jobs the entire U.S. economy added last month. Other prominent U.S. manufacturers have also relocated operations at home.
Offshoring is becoming démodé elsewhere in the West as well. New Call Telecom, a British company, recently opened a new call centre in Burnley, near Manchester, reportedly because commercial property there is as cheap as in Mumbai—as low as $6 per square foot. In Canada, though, the picture is mixed, according to a recent report by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, with a roughly equal number of manufacturers offshoring and inshoring.
By Jason Kirby - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 5 Comments
Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, on greed, globalization and what it takes to wake up happy each day
Jeffrey Immelt is the chairman and CEO of General Electric, one of the world’s largest corporations, and a member of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Since the financial crisis he’s been an outspoken critic of corporate excess and failed leadership. But he has also faced criticism of his own from GE investors who’ve seen shares fall 60 per cent since he took over in 2001. Immelt spoke to Maclean’s during a visit to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics.
Q: In a speech at the West Point military academy in December, you said we’ve come through an era when business went from tough-mindedness, which is a good trait, to meanness and greed. What did you mean by that?
A: Over a period of time, not enough effort has been put forward to investing in the capability and long-term growth of the productive middle class of the United States. Less money has been invested in research and development and manufacturing, with more of a transition to financial services. When a country from 1980 to 2010 goes from being an export powerhouse to an unbelievably consumption-driven net importer, that’s not a good trend.
Q: Can it be reversed?
A: It’s going to take lots of spending on R & D, and a real dedication to making our workforce more productive again. Seven per cent of U.S. GDP is exports. In Germany, it’s 35 per cent. Germany’s not a low-cost country. Germany is not Mexico. And there’s no reason why the U.S. can’t have some kind of destiny that’s like that.
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, December 4, 2009 at 12:35 PM - 7 Comments
Before Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock started making all those GE jokes the only one I heard (or the only one I remembered) was Wayne and Shuster’s “I Was a TV Addict, based on the best-selling novel I Was a Pusher For General Electric.”
Update: As noted in comments, David Letterman (in his NBC incarnation) was doing General Electric jokes before the whippersnappers at SNL got around to it: