HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – General Electric Co.’s recently announced reorganization will help simplify operations and give investors a clearer view of the company, a top executive told members of Congress on Monday.

John Rice, vice chairman of the Fairfield-based GE and president of the newly formed GE Technology Infrastructure unit, said cutting GE to four businesses from six is logical.

“It helps simplify the company from the outside in,” Rice said following a congressional hearing in Hartford.

“It’s an easier way for investors to view us and understand what we do.”

Rice made his remarks at a public hearing in Hartford called by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He, former United Technologies Corp. Chief Executive George David and Yale University environmental law professor Dan Esty were there to speak about the impact of climate change on businesses.

But Rice also talked about the reorganization, which was announced Friday. He said the idea was helped formed by the spinoff of GE’s lighting and appliance businesses. But no one event prompted the changes, he said.

The new structure will pare GE from six businesses to four. It will break the sizable Infrastructure business into two: GE Technology Infrastructure, which includes Healthcare, Aviation, Transportation and Enterprise Solutions, and GE Energy Infrastructure, which includes Energy, Oil & Gas and Water.

GE Capital will bring together all the financial service businesses, including Commercial Finance, GE Money, industry verticals and Corporate Treasury.

NBC Universal, headed by Jeff Zucker, will remain unchanged.

Jeff Immelt, GE’s chief executive, has been under pressure to shake up GE since releasing first-quarter earnings in April that widely missed the target. GE’s share price has since dropped more than 20 percent.

The reorganization gives GE management better ways to improve operations, Rice said. It makes sense, for example, to move energy, oil and gas into one business because products of those business divisions are frequently sold together, he said.

The reorganization also will save money, though that was not the prime reason for the change, Rice said.

“We’ve set goals for significant cost reductions and this allows us to do it,” he said.

Immelt said in April that GE will increase its planned cost-cutting by 50 percent, from $2 billion to $3 billion.

Rice said another restructuring is not in the works now that the industrial and financial conglomerate is down to four businesses.

“I don’t foresee another wholesale reorganization,” he said.

GE’s shares traded at $27.94, down 77 cents, in late afternoon trading.

AP-ES-07-28-08 1629EDT


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