Chinese electronics and appliance maker Haier has signed a "definitive agreement" to buy General Electric's century-old appliance division for $5.4 billion. GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said the company is "pleased to be selling our appliances business to Haier, which is committed to growing the business globally." The US firm previously tried to sell the business last December to Swedish giant Electrolux for $3.3 billion, but walked away from the deal after opposition from American antitrust regulators. As Haier has a much smaller market presence in the US than Electrolux, this new deal is less likely to raise similar concerns.
Buying an established brand is a fast way into a new market
The decision comes as part of a wider effort by GE to move away from its legacy product lines, focusing instead on more high-value, industrial technology, like jet engines and power turbines, reports The Wall Street Journal. Haier, meanwhile, is looking for a bigger presence in the US market. The Chinese company is the biggest seller of "major appliances" in the world, with just over 10 percent of the global market, but it's still not that well known in the US. Buying an established player — just as Chinese computer giant Lenovo bought the ThinkPad brand from IBM — is a fast way into the market. GE, which is the number two supplier of domestic appliances in the US after Whirlpool, says Haier has made a "long-term agreement" to continue to use the GE Appliances brand.