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GE, Russia Discuss Power, Health Care Investment

GE officials, left, meeting with Putin at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence Friday. Alexey Nikolsky

General Electric is in preliminary talks to expand its health care and power-generation operations in Russia, in what the company said Friday was a long-term, multibillion-dollar opportunity.

GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt met Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and other government officials in Moscow on Friday. The meeting also included Russian Technologies chief executive Sergei Chemezov and Inter RAO acting chairman Boris Kovalchuk.

Putin said the country planned a modernization of its health care and power-generation systems, according to comments published on the government web site.

"You found very good spheres to apply your efforts," Putin said in the meeting, referring to the production of power-generating equipment and medical devices.

GE is the world's biggest provider of power-generation equipment as well as medical-imaging equipment and health information technology systems. The company has about 2,500 employees in 25 cities in Russia. It began operations in the country in the 1920s to develop electricity systems.

"I think that it will be world-class technology in both cases, with very strong partners," Immelt said, according to the Russian-language transcript. "That's why we believe we will be able to start production fairly quickly on excellent products for both the Russian market and for export."

He also thanked Putin for his help in finding Russian partners after their last meeting in Sochi, in September 2009.

Immelt has been pushing to expand into faster-growth regions, including Eastern Europe, and Russia provided about $1.6 billion of GE's $33 billion in revenue from emerging markets last year.

There can be no assurance that the discussions will lead to a definitive agreement, GE said in a statement.

Russian sales rose 25 percent in 2009, said Anne Eisele, a GE spokeswoman. Energy revenue more than doubled, while products in the technology-infrastructure segment, which includes aircraft engines, locomotives and health care, rose 23 percent, Eisele said.

She declined to comment on the meeting with Putin.

(Bloomberg, MT)

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