GE grows into the world’s biggest landlord
GE began acquiring real estate in earnest in the 1990s at the suggestion of its commercial lenders. It has acquired so much that it now derives 10% of its earnings from property. Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s chairman and chief executive, has an unexpected problem: if he does not want GE to be cast as a property company, he may need some nimble balance sheet management. Michael Pralle, GE Real Estate’s CEO, tells Peter Lee how it feels to own so much.
GE, the iconic jet-engines-to-medical-imaging conglomerate, has created, almost by accident, one of the world’s fastest-growing and most profitable real estate companies. What is it supposed to do with it now?
It used to be said of St John’s College, Oxford, as a way of decrying its excessive wealth and influence, that a student could walk the 70-odd miles from Oxford to Cambridge without ever stepping off land the college owned.