GE Sheds Train Engine Unit With $11B Merger

The deal with railroad manufacturing firm Wabtec is the biggest step so far in GE's plan to streamline its operations to three core segments.
Matthew HellerMay 21, 2018

General Electric said Monday it will merge its train engine division with railroad manufacturing firm Wabtec in an $11.1 billion deal that marks the biggest step so far in GE’s restructuring of its operations.

GE Transportation generated $3.7 billion in revenue last year but did not fit into CEO John Flannery’s strategy of focusing on three core segments: power, including renewable energy, aviation, and health care.

The deal with Wabtec, which manufactures equipment for locomotives, freight cars, and passenger transit vehicles, will provide GE with $2.9 billion in cash while GE and its shareholders will receive a 50.1% ownership interest in the combined company.

“Wabtec and GE Transportation are global industry leaders and we believe that together we have a unique opportunity to drive tremendous growth in 2019 and beyond as the industry continues to improve,” Wabtec CEO Raymond Betler said in a news release.

According to the two companies, GE Transportation business “is positioned for a significant rebound, with estimated adjusted EBITDA growing from about $750 million in 2018 to between $900 million and $1 billion in 2019. The backlog of approximately $18 billion includes about 1,800 new locomotives and approximately 1,000 to be modernized.”

The combined company is expected to have about $8 billion in revenue, with more than 23,000 locomotives in its global installed base.

Reuters said the merger follows years of on-and-off talks between Wabtec and the GE unit. “For a whole host of reasons, the stars kind of lined up this time, and it presented an opportunity for us to actually get it done,” Belter told Reuters.

On news of the deal, GE stock rose 2.8% to $15.39 in trading Monday.

“It’s hard not to view the deal as a win for GE — the company will unload a capital intensive business, get to participate in its upside (GE shareholders will hold about 50.1% of the combined group) and receive $2.9 billion in cash,” TheStreet said.

As part of the restructuring plan announced late last year, GE is aiming to divest at least $20 billion of assets through sales, spin-offs or other means.