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GE to distribute $40 bn to shareholders in 2015-2016

The logo of US giant General Electric/AFP

US industrial conglomerate General Electric said Tuesday it plans to distribute $40 billion to its shareholders in 2015 and 2016 in the form of dividends and share buybacks.

The announcement, made at an investor conference, marks a relatively ambitious plan for shareholder returns, representing 16 percent of the company’s total capitalization of $246 billion at the market close on Tuesday.

GE projected adjusted 2014 earnings per share in a range of $1.70 to $1.80.

Analysts on average estimated earnings of $1.79 per share.

Shares in Dow member GE fell 0.4 percent to $24.49.

The company said its industrial activities were expected to contribute $1.10-1.20 earnings per share, while the finance arm should yield 60 cents.

Next year should see the conglomerate increasingly return to its industrial roots as it pares the size of GE Capital.

Considered a bellwether for global industrial activity, GE recently has made several divestments and acquisitions to build on its sprawling industrial activities.

In the second quarter GE won a tough battle to buy the energy activities of French industrial group Alstom for $12.4 billion euros ($15.5 billion). Alstom shareholders are scheduled to vote on the deal on Friday.

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GE spun off its retail finance business of the GE Capital division, renaming it Synchrony Financial.

In November, it closed the sale of GE Capital’s GE Money Bank, serving the Nordic markets, to Spain’s Santander, the biggest bank in Europe by market value, for 700 million euros ($876 million).

The company agreed in September to sell its appliances business to Electrolux of Sweden. The $3.3 billion deal is expected to close next year.

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