G.E. Deals for Energy Conversion Company

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 @ 05:03 PM gHale

General Electric will spend $3.2 billion for a 90 percent stake in Massy, France-based Converteam, which specializes in high-efficiency electric power conversion components like motors, generators, drives and automation controls.

The components cut across industries at the core of G.E.’s industrial and energy operations, including its oil and gas initiatives, as well as solar and wind power.

The move is the latest in a string of energy infrastructure acquisitions for G.E., which also picked up the well-support unit of the John Wood Group, as well as Wellstream Holdings, the British oil services company. It also bought Dresser, a manufacturer and servicer of natural gas engines, fueling systems and other components.

This acquisition would allow G.E. and its industrial and offshore oil and gas customers, for example, to readily replace inefficient fixed-speed drive technology with Converteam’s more flexible variable-speed systems, saving energy, said Joseph R. Mastrangelo, a vice president with G.E.’s oil and gas division.

Converteam also makes converters that smooth the intermittency bumps that make solar and wind power difficult to integrate with other sources of electricity.

Roughly 25 percent of the world’s electricity turns rotating machines in all manner of industrial and power generating applications, according to G.E. Making highly engineered components designed to make those processes as efficient as possible is an increasingly competitive — and lucrative — field, the company said.

The deal should close in the third quarter.

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