GE may sell digital business to focus on core areas

General Electric (GE) may sell its digital business, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
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GE has hired an investment bank to organize an auction for its digital assets, the report said.

GE’s multibillion-dollar digital business includes its Predix software system and applications. The digital business has been struggling with technical issues and weakening sales.

GE has been seeking partners to invest in GE Digital as it narrowed the target markets for the division and abandoned plans to build a cloud platform, instead partnering with and Microsoft clouds.

GE will reduce investment in the digital unit and focus on partnerships due to cash constraints and falling profits at its large power business.

Former GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt invested more than $4 billion in GE Digital and placed it at the strategic center of what he called GE’s new role as a “digital industrial company.”

But technical issues and competition from less costly systems slowed the unit’s growth, forcing GE to shift strategy.

The unit, which became a standalone business in 2015, has not reported profit and loss as other GE units do. It posted revenue of $4 billion last year, a 12 percent increase from 2016, GE said.

Revenue growth was flat in the latest quarter, compared with a year ago, and new orders fell 23 percent, GE said earlier this month.

GE has been laying off programmers at the GE Digital’s San Ramon, California, headquarters.

The Boston-based conglomerate said in June that it plans to spin off its healthcare business and divest its stake in oil-services firm Baker Hughes, effectively breaking up the 126-year-old company.

The slimmed-down company under Chief Executive John Flannery will focus on jet engines, power plants and renewable energy.