GE to purchase mining companies, create new division

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NEW YORK — General Electric is preparing to buy more mining-equipment and services companies as it creates a new unit using the blueprint for doubling oil and gas revenue in four years.

The division should reach $5 billion in sales “within a few years,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, chief executive officer of GE Transportation, of which the business will be a part. GE’s current mining offerings generated about $2 billion last year, according to the Fairfield, Conn.-based company.

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt bulked up his energy portfolio with more than $11 billion in purchases in a six-month spree that ended in March 2011. Now he’s betting on rising demand for commodities from copper to coal even as miners such as BHP Billiton, the world’s largest, delay spending on projects and China’s fast-growing economy shows signs of faltering.

GE Mining will be based in Brisbane, Australia, home to 2012 acquisition Industrea Ltd. The unit was scheduled to be unveiled today at the MINExpo industry exhibition in Las Vegas, where the participants include Caterpillar Inc., the world’s biggest maker of mining and construction equipment.

Simonelli didn’t give a specific year by which he expects GE Mining to reach $5 billion in revenue. GE Transportation, the largest maker of locomotives, had $4.9 billion in sales in 2011.

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