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GE Targets Add-On Purchases in Europe as German Focus Increases

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. is targeting smaller acquisitions in Germany and joint ventures in Russia, while the pace of purchases in Europe is unlikely to continue from the first quarter, the head of GE for Europe said.

“Germany stands out for GE, and Russia,” Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco, who heads GE’s international business, said in an interview in Frankfurt. “This is where our main strategic opportunities in Europe are being realized.”

GE has made most of its acquisitions in Europe this year, lead by the $3.2-billion purchase of Converteam, a French maker of power conversion products. The focus is a result of opportunities rather a shift in strategy, Beccalli-Falco said. GE’s standing in Germany, where it faces local rival Siemens AG, is still “not satisfactory,” and GE will boost hiring and research to gain ground in areas such as health care, the executive said.

Acquisitions in Germany will likely be small, Beccalli-Falco said. GE has about 7,000 employees in the country, compared with 131,000 workers at Siemens. Germany is also attractive as a stepping stone for neighboring countries, the executive said. The company plans to market offshore wind turbines and will bring its solar power product offering to Europe, he said.

GE will also push for more joint ventures in Russia in an effort to get access to a market that had previously been closed, he said. In September, GE announced joint ventures for gas-fired power turbines and medical diagnostic equipment in Russia, and said each may generate sales of as high as $15 billion.

“There are a couple more opportunities we are pursuing right now” in Russia, Beccalli-Falco said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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