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Reports: GE contemplating sale of appliances business

General Electric is considering a sale of its appliances unit, the conglomerate’s oldest business, according to several news reports.

First reported on Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, the company is said to be contemplating a sale of the unit that produces refrigerators, microwaves, washers, dryers and numerous other household appliances. According to unnamed sources cited by the newspaper, the unit could sell for as much as $8 billion and at least $5 billion.

The company reportedly has hired Goldman Sachs to explore options that include a spinoff or auction. Potential buyers are rumored to include Asian manufacturers, such as LG or Haier. Bosch & Siemens Hausgerate of Germany, parent of BSH Home Appliances, is also said to be a potential buyer.

Kim Freeman, a spokesperson for GE consumer and industrial, told HCN the company has made no announcements and is not commenting on the speculation.

The 120-year-old company only received a fraction of its total $173 billion in sales last year from the appliances unit, which accounted for $7 billion in sales. Most recently, the company reported earnings that did not meet projections from analysts, and the company cut its projected earnings growth for 2008 in half to 5 percent.

The company has considered the spinoff of other units as well, and last year GE sold its plastics division to Saudi Arabia-based Sabic for $11.6 billion.

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