General Electric

G.E. forges on with China tech spend

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2012, 12:00am


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US-based industrial giant General Electric (GE), which has already delivered on plans to spend US$2 billion to beef up its activities in China, will continue to increase investments in innovation and technology partnerships in the mainland market.

GE China chief executive Mark Hutchinson said the corporate giant was unfazed by talk of an economic slowdown on the mainland and planned to open at least two more centres to develop new technologies - one in Shenyang, Liaoning province, and the other in Wuhan, Hubei.

'We are not stopping,' Hutchison said. 'We'll keep going. We have plans to open other innovation centres and build up technology partnerships here.'

GE is the world's biggest maker of jet engines, power-generation equipment, health-care imaging equipment and locomotives.

GE chief executive Jeff Immelt said in 2010 that the group would invest a combined US$2 billion in China over a three-year period.

The company completed the plan ahead of schedule following the opening of a US$60 million innovation centre in Xian, Shaanxi province, last week.

While conceding that a slowdown in the global and Chinese economies was having an impact on its customers in China, Hutchinson said GE remained bullish on its three key businesses on the mainland: aviation, energy and health care.

'They are all very much aligned to the government's [12th] five-year plan,' he said.

'We are confident that China will keep on track with its plan and we'll keep on track with them.'

Among the US$2 billion in investments GE made on the mainland in the last three years is a joint venture with local partners, including one with Aviation Industry Corp of China to produce the central information system for China's jumbo jet.

Other investments include setting up a joint venture with Huadian Group, which makes devices used to burn natural gas to create energy. And an US$80 million innovation centre established in Chengdu, Sichuan province, to develop tailor-made equipment and technology for the country's health care, energy, transport, and industrial automation industries.

To date, GE has established two innovation centres on the mainland, both in the western region.

It said it hoped to position itself closer to the high-growth western region in tandem with Beijing's 'Go West' campaign.

Foreign businesses are meanwhile grappling with rising labour costs and shrinking demand on the mainland, where competition is becoming cut-throat as companies fight for dwindling sales revenue.

GE has reported annualised business growth of about 20 per cent over the past few years and Immelt said the company was chasing 'steady and consistent' market growth.