Friday, June 15, 2007

GE To Become A Public/Private Equity Shop

In an attempt to justify GE's existence as a conglomerate, its CEO, Jeff Immelt, announced today that, henceforth, he would transform GE into a public/private equity enterprise.

"If Steve Schwarzman (Blackstone CEO) can go public with its portfolio of operating businesses, then I can take GE into the private equity game," Immelt was quoted as saying.

Tiring of getting "no respect," and feeling like "the Rodney Dangerfield of CEOs," Immelt has decided to spin off his entire business portfolio, while buying ailing units of other firms.

"We're going to show the world, and our investors, that GE's vaunted management system is the best in the world. We can take a corporate sow's ear and make it into the proverbial business silk purse, then spin it back to the public, just like Blackstone, KKR, and TPG," Immelt declared.

Regarded for decades as one of the two most influential incubators of US corporate management talent, along with Proctor & Gamble, GE has been known for training generations of financially-oriented managers who have gone on to lead other American corporations. Not, mind you, always to consistently superior total returns. But lead, nonetheless, complete with comfortable compensation packages.

As such, Immelt intends to convert GE into a sort of managerial competence "pure play." According to pundits and analysts, Immelt intends to put every manager in GE's new acquisitions through its storied Crotonville 're-education' center, in order to remake them as fully-trained, GE-style managers.

Immelt, tired of the heckling of numerous analysts and bloggers, declared,

"We're going to prove to investors, analysts, bloggers, and the public, that GE managers can manage anything well. If private equity shops can buy on the cheap and fix businesses, so can we. And to prove it, I'm starting with a clean slate of operating businesses."

To be sure, it's a novel approach. But, then, nothing else Immelt has done has delivered consistently superior returns for his shareholders. They would have been far better off selling their GE stock upon Immelt's elevation to CEO, and simply buying and holding the S&P500.

In a related story, GE's board was reportedly raising Immelt's compensation for 2008 to approximately $800MM. A spokesperson for the board noted that Blackstone's Schwarzman had received some $700MM from his company's IPO, and, thus, the CEO of a public 'private equity' shop, as GE's Immelt has reclassified his company, ought to be worth the same, if not a little more.

CNBC said it would not be interviewing Immelt on this latest compensation-related development. Not, at least, until NBC/Universal has been spun off to shareholders.

(The preceding piece is intended as humor. None of the quotes are factual. However, given Immelt's insistence on running a conglomerate, it may well be that the only way he can avoid penalizing GE shareholders with a discount to net asset values is to transform GE into the only type of successful conglomerates on the American business scene today- private equity firms.)

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