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GE Turns Outsourcing To Gold

U.S. manufacturing and energy giant General Electric Co. will sell 60 percent of its global outsourcing business for $500 million to two U.S. investment companies.

Pramod Bhasin, chief executive officer of GE Capital International Services, said in a statement that the stakes would be sold to equity investors, General Atlantic Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners, in a deal reached over the weekend.

"This transaction allows us to offer our quality business process services to an expanding roster of leading companies worldwide," Bhasin said. Until now, 95 percent of the back-office business in GE Capital International Services was from General Electric.

The new deal, part of a growing trend by leading multinational companies to sell off their back-office operations to save money, will allow GECIS to cater to many other companies.

GE was among the first American companies to set up business processing outsourcing operations in India, taking advantage of the large pool of English-speaking workers ready to work for low wages and tech-savvy entrepreneurs in the South Asian nation.

Bhasin emphasized that they hoped to pool the strengths of the companies.

"With GE's DNA and the global trends of GAP and Oakhill we can take on the world and win," he said. "We will now have unrestricted access to the world market."

Still, GE "will continue to remain our largest customer for years to come," he said.

The company aims to increase its revenues to $513 million in 2005 and employ 23,000 people by the end of 2005. Currently the company employs 17,000 workers at its centers in China, Hungary, India and Mexico.

The company's revenues in the current year are estimated at about $420 million.

By Rajesh Mahapatra