GE moves to buy U.K. oil company

Associated Press

NEW YORK — GE is starting to look like its old self again. The company announced Monday it will purchase U.K. oil and gas services company Wellstream Holdings for $1.3 billion. It’s GE’s second acquisition of an energy company this fall.

Last week General Electric Co. announced it was increasing its dividend by 17 percent, its second dividend increase this year.

“You see a company that’s no longer as defensive as it has had to be,” said Daniel Holland, an analyst at Morningstar.

GE, noted for its history of acquisitions, steady growth and increasing dividends was left battered by the economic downturn, and the company still hasn’t regained all of its lost ground. Its share price is half of what it was before the crash. While the dividend is growing again, it is still far below where it was in February 2009 when the company made its first dividend cut since the Great Depression, from 31 cents to 10 cents.

In agreeing to buy Wellstream, GE is looking to bolster its energy services business and tap into what is expected to be strong growth in drilling for oil in deep waters around the globe.

Wellstream makes equipment like flexible risers and so-called flow-line products that help gather oil pumped from deep under the sea and send it to shore.