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GE sells plastics division for $11.6B

FAIRFIELD, Conn., May 21 (UPI) -- General Electric Co. said Monday it agreed to sell its plastics division to Saudi Arabia's largest industrial company for $11.6 billion.

The sale to Saudi Basic Industries Corp. is part of GE's plan to transform its "portfolio of businesses through smart dispositions and investments in higher-growth, higher technology businesses," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt said.

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Other bidders had included Dutch plastics specialist Basell, owned by U.S. consortium Access Industries, and U.S. private-equity firm Apollo Investment Corp., which bought GE's advanced-materials business for $3.8 billion last year.

GE will use its $9 billion in after-tax proceeds to fund a stock buyback "and strengthen the company through restructuring," Immelt said.

The deal's closing is targeted for the third quarter, subject to regulatory approvals, GE said.

Sabic Chief Executive Officer Mohamed al-Mady said GE Plastics, which has 10,300 employees in 20 countries, "is complementary to our existing business without any overlaps."

GE Plastics, based in Pittsfield, Mass., is a $6.65 billion supplier of plastics used in automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics, transportation, telecommunications and other industries.

Sabic is one of the world's 10 largest petrochemicals manufacturers, with a market capitalization of $80 billion.

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