General Electric Co. (GE) is in talks to sell its security systems unit, most likely to United Technologies Corp. (UTX), for more than $1.5 billion in an effort to reshuffle its extensive portfolio and raise capital for strategic acquisitions.

United Technologies Corp. is a diversified company whose products include Carrier heating and air conditioning, Hamilton Sundstrand aerospace systems and industrial products, Otis elevators and escalators, Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, Sikorsky helicopters, UTC Fire & Security systems and UTC Power fuel cells. The company has been lately looking to expand its security business.

GE’s move to sell its fire alarms and security division comes as it is finalizing a bigger deal to hive off its NBC Universal television and movie unit into a joint venture controlled by the cable operator Comcast.  Strategically, GE wants to raise funds to expand its core businesses – which include infrastructure, oil and gas equipment, and energy – partly by hiving off peripheral divisions.

The security services unit operates in more than 26 countries around the world and caters to individuals, companies, governments and the military. The Florida-based division expanded when GE bought Edwards Systems Technology, a maker of fire detection equipment, from the US group SPX in 2004 for $1.4bn in cash.

Addition of GE’s security division could fulfill the United Technologies’ ambition to expand in a sector that it estimates to be worth $100 billion.

GE operates as a technology, media, and financial services company worldwide. Major competitors include Citigroup Inc. (C) and Siemens AG (SI).

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on GE.

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