Electrolux CEO: GE Appliance Park will be 'integral' part of com - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Electrolux CEO: GE Appliance Park will be 'integral' part of combined company

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Electrolux CEO Keith McLoughlin at GLI annual meeting, Feb. 17, 2015 Electrolux CEO Keith McLoughlin at GLI annual meeting, Feb. 17, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Speaking to hundreds of Louisville business people Tuesday night, Electrolux CEO Keith McLoughlin lavished praise on General Electric's Louisville-based appliance business but offered little insight into what his company's pending $3.3 billion acquisition of that business means for about 6,000 local jobs.

It wasn't for lack of trying on the part of Greater Louisville Inc. CEO Kent Oyler. After McLoughlin talked for about a half hour about the global appliance business, Oyler opened a Q&A session by asking: “What do you expect to keep here in Louisville?”

McLoughlin noted that the Electrolux-GE Appliances deal still awaits approval from U.S. regulators.

“There's lots of specifics that I actually don't know yet – we don't know what we can keep and what we can't keep,” McLoughlin said. “We know that what's in Louisville – what's in GE Appliances -- is a significant competitive advantage for us in terms of R&D (research and development), in terms of manufacturing, in terms of distribution and brand.” McLoughlin added that he expects GE Appliance Park in Louisville to remain "an integral part of our footprint."

Electrolux announced it would buy GE's Louisville-based appliance business in September. The deal should win regulatory approval and close in mid-2015, McLoughlin said.

McLoughlin, an American who is based at Electrolux's headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, flew to Louisville Tuesday morning to be the keynote speaker at GLI's Annual Meeting.

Though he could offer no assurances about jobs, McLoughlin acknowledged how important GE's Appliance Park is for Louisville.

“If we didn't already feel the heat, we're feeling it,” he joked at the beginning of his speech.

McLoughlin noted that Electrolux's North American headquarters will remain in Charlotte, which the company said the day the deal was announced last September. He did not say what that might mean for about 2,200 white collar appliance division jobs (IT, finance, human resources, sales, marketing) in Louisville.

But Electrolux is getting “great (human) talent, great expertise” -- from manufacturing know-how to research and development – from GE, McLoughlin said.

“We might wind up learning more from GE than GE learns from us,” he said.

McLoughlin also reiterated some of the rationale for deal.

“The GE portfolio of brands fits right in the middle of the space we're not occupying,” he said, noting Electrolux has high-end appliances under its own name and mass-market models under Frigidaire.

He also said the highly competitive appliance business is seeing a lot of consolidation and “scale” is necessary to compete. Electrolux and GE are the second and third biggest U.S. appliance makers, respectively, to Whirlpool.

McLoughlin did not do any media interviews on Tuesday. 

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