GE said to mull At­lanta site among pos­si­ble Head­quar­ters op­tions

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Gen­eral Elec­tric Co. has held ex­ploratory talks about re­lo­cat­ing its head­quar­ters to At­lanta from Con­necti­cut as part of a re­view of pos­si­ble new homes, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

GE may meet with devel­oper Tish­man Speyer Prop­er­ties in the com­ing weeks to dis­cuss space at Three Al­liance Cen­ter, a 30-story build­ing go­ing up in At­lanta's Buck­head neigh­bor­hood, said the peo­ple, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied be­cause de­tails aren't public. GE is con­sid­er­ing other cities and isn't close to an agree­ment, the peo­ple said. Dal­las is also among the mar­kets un­der study, one of the peo­ple said.

The dis­cus­sions sig­nal the se­ri­ous­ness of GE's threat in June to con­sider shift­ing its cor­po­rate of­fices out of Fair­field af­ter be­ing based in Con­necti­cut since the 1970s. The maker of lo­co­mo­tives and oil­field equip­ment said two months ago that tax in­creases had made the state a tough place for busi­ness growth. GE de­clined to com­ment on the de­lib­er­a­tions about At­lanta, and in­stead pro­vided a ver­sion of a state­ment orig­i­nally re­leased in June about its eval­u­a­tion of other lo­ca­tions.

"We have formed an ex­ploratory team to as­sess the com­pany's op­tions to re­lo­cate cor­po­rate head­quar­ters," GE said. "The team is cur­rently en­gaged in the process and is tak­ing many fac­tors into con­sid­er­a­tion. When there is a fi­nal de­ci­sion on re­lo­ca­tion, we will com­mu­ni­cate it pub­licly." Bud Per­rone, a Tish­man spokesman with Ruben­stein Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc., de­clined to com­ment. GE has 4,900 em­ploy­ees in Con­necti­cut, chiefly in the Nor­walk of­fices of the GE Cap­i­tal fi­nance arm that the par­ent com­pany is shrink­ing to fo­cus on man­u­fac­tur­ing oper­a­tions. About 800 work­ers are lo­cated in Fair­field.

GE's pay­roll num­bered 305,000 peo­ple at the end of 2014, scat­tered around the world among busi­nesses that span jet en­gines to light bulbs to air­craft leas­ing. At­lanta al­ready is home to the GE Energy Man­age­ment unit, and the city's main air­port, Harts­field-Jack­son In­ter­na­tional, is the world's busiest. Three Al­liance Cen­ter, a sleek glass-and-steel build­ing near At­lanta's main fi­nan­cial hub, is sched­uled to be com­pleted late next year. The high-rise will have 500,000 square feet (46,500 square me­ters) of space.

GE's stated open­ness to a new home spurred over­tures from po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in states in­clud­ing Ge­or­gia and Ohio. Texas Gover­nor Greg Ab­bott wrote in June to Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Jeffrey Im­melt to tout low busi­ness taxes.

Con­necti­cut law­mak­ers ap­proved a two-year, $40 bil­lion bud­get in June that raised levies on busi­nesses and wealthy in­di­vid­u­als, prompt­ing ob­jec­tions from com­pa­nies such as GE and in­surer Aetna Inc. Gover­nor Dan­nel Mal­loy re­scinded about $178 mil­lion of the $1.5 bil­lion in tax in­creases and post­poned a busi­ness-re­port­ing pro­vi­sion in the ver­sion he signed June 30. Mean­while, Gen­eral Elec­tric Co. has helped Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Jeffrey Im­melt amass $22 mil­lion of life in­sur­ance cov­er­age that one day could help his heirs cover the tax bill for his es­tate.

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