GEC plans name change to reflect new high-tech focus

GEC is set for a name change later this year, following a hectic series of disposals and acquisitions. The group revealed last week that although some more strategic acquisitions are possible, the main task is now to integrate the businesses that have come on board recently. The acquisitions have transformed GEC from a diversified industrial […]

GEC is set for a name change later this year, following a hectic series of disposals and acquisitions.

The group revealed last week that although some more strategic acquisitions are possible, the main task is now to integrate the businesses that have come on board recently.

The acquisitions have transformed GEC from a diversified industrial conglomerate into a narrowly focused telecoms and high-tech electronics group.

GEC said it plans to seek a listing on the New York stock exchange and hinted that it could adopt the Marconi brand, one of its best-known, for its corporate name when it lists in the US.

The change would help reinforce City perceptions of the group as a high-tech electronics business, while avoiding confusion with US-based General Electric.

Chief executive Lord Simpson appeared to rule out the use of a made-up name conceived by branding specialists, as BTR/Siebe did by adopting the name Invensys.

Simpson was speaking after unveiling annual results showing a strong rise in pre-tax profits from a restated £879m to £1.5bn. This included exceptional gains of £775m from the flotation of joint venture Alstom.

Turnover was also up, from £7.17bn to £7.63bn. Operating profits declined from £759m to £706m.

Simpson said that while some acquisition activity was inevitable, the priority would be for all the group’s businesses to work together and achieve strong organic growth. Acquisitions would most likely be bolt-ons rather than anything bigger.

Marconi Electronic Systems, GEC’s defence arm, which is in the process of being sold to British Aerospace, saw sales up 18% to £3.5bn last year, thanks in part to the integration of US defence electronics company Tracor.

Simpson said Marconi’s results were probably better than BAe had had in mind when it sold the business to GEC. `We are very happy about the development of the defence company,’ he said.