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In February 2011, General Electric (GE) reached an agreement to acquire the well-support division of John Wood Group PLC for $2.8 billion. This was GE’s third acquisition of a company that provides services to oil wells in only five months. In October 2010, GE added the deepwater exploration capabilities of Wellstream Holdings PLC for $1.3 billion. In December 2010, part and equipment maker Dresser was acquired for $3 billion. By spending more than $7 billion on these acquisitions, GE executives made it clear that they had big plans within the oil well services business.
While many executives would struggle to integrate three new companies into their firms, experts expected GE’s leaders to smoothly execute the transitions. In describing the acquisition of John Wood Group PLC, for example, one Wall Street analyst noted, “This is a nice bolt-on deal for GE (Layne, 2011).” In other words, this analyst believed that John Wood Group PLC could be seamlessly added to GE’s corporate empire. The way that GE was organized fueled this belief.
GE’s organizational structure includes six divisions, each devoted to specific product categories: (1) Energy (the most profitable division), (2) Capital (the largest division), (3) Home & Business Solutions, (4) Healthcare, (5) Aviation, and (6) Transportation. Within the Energy division, there are three subdivisions: (1) Oil & Gas, (2) Power & Water, and (3) Energy Services. Rather than having the entire organization involved with integrating John Wood Group PLC, Wellstream Holdings PLC, and Dresser into GE, these three newly acquired companies would simply be added to the Oil & Gas subdivisions within the Energy division.
In addition to the six product divisions, GE also had a division devoted to Global Growth & Operations. This division was responsible for all sales of GE products and services outside the United States. The Global Growth & Operations division was very important to GE’s future. Indeed, GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt expected that countries other than the