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Brooke Sutherland

The New GE Could Use Some Berkshire Spirit

To make CEO John Flannery's shakeup work, the company's remaining pieces need to function more independently.

The lights are on at GE.

The lights are on at GE.

Photographer: miSci, Museum of Innovation & Science

General Electric Co. is breaking up in more ways than one.

CEO John Flannery laid out a plan this week to simplify the 126-year old industrial company by spinning off its health-care unit, selling down its stake in the Baker Hughes energy business and further unwinding GE Capital. This is on top of nearly $20 billion of deals for assets including GE’s transportation division and distributed-power operations. It was noteworthy that GE chose Tuesday, the first day since 1907 it hasn’t traded on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to announce its plan for the future structure of the company.