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US industrial giant GE launches digital division

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General Electric launched a digital division Monday that it hopes will propel the US industrial conglomerate into the top ranks of the software industry.

[NEW YORK] General Electric launched a digital division Monday that it hopes will propel the US industrial conglomerate into the top ranks of the software industry.

As the company sheds financial assets to focus on its core industrial businesses, from making aircraft engines and home appliances to equipment for power grids, GE said it was "building the playbook for the new digital industrial world."

The new GE Digital, harnessing all of its digital capabilities, will be led by chief digital officer Bill Ruh, GE's software chief.

"As GE transforms itself to become the world's premier digital industrial company, this will provide GE's customers with the best industrial solutions and the software needed to solve real world problems," said Jeffrey Immelt, GE chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

Mr Immelt forecast the move will increase GE's software and analytics business from US$6 billion in 2015 "to a top 10 software company by 2020."

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based global industrial giant has been shedding financial businesses as it aims to divest US$100 billion in assets by the end of 2015.

With the sale last week of GE Capital's transportation finance unit to Canada's BMO Financial Group, the company said it had racked up about US$85 billion in sales so far this year.

As part of GE's refocus on its industrial strength, Immelt engineered the purchase of French firm Alstom's energy assets. The deal cleared the final antitrust regulatory hurdles on September 8 in the European Union and the United States.

Also on Monday, GE announced several leadership changes. Mark Begor, the head of GE Energy Management, credited with paving the way for growth from the Alstom acquisition, is retiring after 35 years with the company, it said.

Mr Begor will be succeeded by Russell Stokes, 44, an 18-year GE veteran who most recently led the transportation business.

Taking Mr Stokes's place as president and CEO of transportation will be Jamie Miller, 47, senior vice-president and chief information officer. GE said she drove the company's digital transformation through global IT strategy, services and operations.

"All of our business leaders will be critical to our success as a digital industrial company and will help lead us through this generational change for GE," said Mr Immelt.

Shares in Dow member GE were down 1.0 per cent at US$24.70 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

AFP