GE Power CEO Sees Financing Hurdles to $8 Billion Sales Haul

  • Global electricity needs may grow 50% in 2 decades, Bolze says
  • Unit still looking at doing acquisitions after Alstom deal

GE Power CEO: We're Always Looking for M&A

The head of General Electric Co.’s power business sees more than $8 billion of sales opportunities around the globe facing possible delays as energy projects search for financing in a capital-constrained world.

The stalled resumption of the U.S. Export-Import Bank is adding to the challenge as more customers are looking for funding, GE Power Chief Executive Officer Steve Bolze said. Companies in the Middle East increasingly are looking at loans amid falling commodity prices, he said.

“Financing is a big deal on a lot of transactions happening in the world,” he said Monday in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. “You’re in a slower growth, volatile world, so people have to get some external financing.”

Even so, GE is bullish on the power market, since the world’s need for electricity is expected to grow 50 percent in the next 20 years, Bolze said. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company placed a $10 billion bet on the industry with the acquisition of Alstom SA’s energy business last year.

GE Power, which had 2015 sales of $21.5 billion, is one of the largest businesses, along with jet engines and oilfield equipment, as the company renews focus on industrial manufacturing. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has shed the home-appliances operations and almost $200 billion of finance assets ahead of a corporate move to Boston later this year.

Possible Deals

The gas-turbine division is looking for acquisitions that may complement its product offerings, add digital capabilities and improve the services business, Bolze said. He pointed to the recent acquisition of NeuCo Inc., a startup using software to make coal plants cleaner, as an example of the type of deals it may pursue.

In addition to acquisitions, GE Power is looking to build out the services business by providing aftermarket work on equipment from competitors such as Siemens AG -- a capability gained from Alstom. GE has signed several contracts since the deal closed in November, Paul McElhinney, CEO of power services, said in the interview.

“It’s not just on the gas side, but on the steam side, generator side,” he said. “Over time, this has the potential to become a very significant part of the power services business.”