General Electric files paperwork to spin out health-care unit in IPO, stock surges

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the opening ceremony for the GE Healthcare Life Sciences headquarters in Marlborough, Mass., on June 23, 2016.

Timothy Tai | Boston Globe | Getty Images
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the opening ceremony for the GE Healthcare Life Sciences headquarters in Marlborough, Mass., on June 23, 2016.

General Electric has filed paperwork for an IPO of its health-care unit, GE Healthcare, according to people familiar with the matter.

GE is working with JPMorgan Chase on an initial public offering that would likely come mid-2019, someone familiar with the plans told CNBC. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley are also working with GE, according to Bloomberg News. The new public company would rank among the largest in the world.

GE’s stock jumped more than 8 percent on the news.

GE Healthcare, a dominant player in hospital and lab equipment, generated roughly $19 billion in revenue and $3.4 billion in profit last year. It accounted for 15.8 percent of the conglomerate’s total sales, and 43.2 percent of its operating profit in 2017.

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The company announced its plans to spin off GE Healthcare, under the leadership of CEO Kieran Murphy, in late June. General Electric has previously said spinning out the health unit makes sense because it allows the company to double down on its core industrial and energy businesses.

However, the terms of the spin off came into question after John Flannery was removed as chairman and CEO of the industrial conglomerate in October and replaced with former Danaher CEO Lawrence Culp. At the time, GE told CNBC the health unit “plans to continue working toward separation of GE.”

A GE spokesperson declined to comment to Bloomberg report but said, “As we announced in June, GE intends to separate its healthcare business, but we have not confirmed the form or timing.”

“As an independent global healthcare business, GE healthcare will have greater flexibility to pursue future growth opportunities, react quickly to changes in the industry and invest in innovation,” GE added in an emailed statement.

The health-care unit has drastically grown from its origins in 1896 when it began developing X-rays. The company has become a leader in the medical health-care field. It’s already a dominant player in hospital and lab equipment and is a growing force in medical records, health-care software and is expanding its mark on gene therapy research.

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Murphy is expected to grow the company through acquisition and enter more untested, less-regulated markets in underdeveloped nations to ensure its future growth and stay ahead of the company’s main competitors: Siemens, Philips and Canon Medical Systems — formerly known as Toshiba Medical Systems — which all make medical imaging technology like GE.

In an interview Wednesday with CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” former Medtronic Chairman and CEO Bill George argued the health unit would be better off as an independent company because it would allow it to focus on research and development. He also complimented Murphy’s leadership.

Wednesday’s jump in the stock price also followed Vertical Research Partners’ share upgrade to buy. It’s the first time in more than a decade that analyst Jeff Sprague has recommended that his clients purchase the stock.

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