GE said to mull Atlanta site among possible Headquarters options
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.