GE will sell its appliance business to China's Haier

After a failed deal with Electrolux, General Electric has signed an agreement to sell its large appliance business to the Chinese manufacturer Haier.


A set of Haier washing machines.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

General Electric has agreed to sell its Louisville-based large appliance business to the Chinese manufacturer Haier, the two announced this morning. The purchase will cost Haier $5.4 billion if it passes regulatory scrutiny in the US, China and elsewhere.

This sale follows an attempt by GE to sell its appliance business for $3.3 billion to Electrolux. Objections from the US Department of Justice killed that deal in December 2015, however. GE has been trying to sell its consumer-facing businesses for the past decade as it tries to refocus on industrial manufacturing.

Haier, based in Qingdao, has been working to expand its presence in the US. It's the leading appliance manufacturer globally, but it can only claim 1.1 percent of the US appliance market. A deal with GE, which owns just over 14 percent of the US appliance market, would put Haier in the number two position in the States, behind Whirlpool.

In a press conference this morning, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stated that Haier intends to keep the business headquarters, management team and workforce intact.

"We get to keep the headquarters, and the employees," Fischer said.

What completion of the sale would mean for Haier's existing Camden, South Carolina-based refrigerator manufacturing plant has not been discussed.

If the deal passes, Haier will maintain the rights to use the GE appliance branding in the US and abroad for 40 years.

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