General Electric Co chairman and chief executive officer Jeffrey Immelt says the company has a very strong presence in Malaysia. Pic by Munira Abdul Ghani

KUALA LUMPUR: American industrial giant General Electric Co (GE) is impressed with Malaysia growing its economy at four per cent despite the global economic turbulence.

“I just think the fact that Malaysia is growing at four per cent in a world that is uncertain speaks a lot to the people in the economy,” GE chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Jeffrey Immelt told the New Straits Times in an exclusive interview.

The head of the 140-year-old company said Malaysia should seize the opportunity from the current global “chaos”.

“If you wait for things to be perfect, you are going to wait forever. But, if you are able to see chaos as an opportunity, everything out there is to be had,” he said.

Immelt, 60, has reshaped GE around industrial manufacturing and data analytics, while working to shed the bulk of the GE Capital finance arm. The company reached deals to unload more than US$150 billion (RM618 billion) of lending assets and closed the US$10.3 billion acquisition of Alstom SA’s energy business.

GE, with a total annual revenue exceeding US$140 billion, employs 310,000 workers worldwide. Its revenue exceeds the gross domestic product (GDP) of many nations.

Malaysia’s economy grew four per cent in the second quarter of this year, following a 4.2 per cent expansion in the first quarter, supported by strong domestic demand amid tougher conditions worldwide.

For the first six months of this year, the economy grew at 4.1 per cent year-on-year, and economists said it was on track to hit the target of 4 to 4.5 per cent GDP growth.

Immelt, who was on a whirlwind tour of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand last week, said GE remained committed to Malaysia and Asean.

Malaysia is one of the important markets for GE in Asean with key customers, such as Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS), AirAsia Bhd and Petronas.

Last Thursday, GE signed a US$630 million deal with MAS for LEAP-1B engines with CFM International to power 50 new Boeing B737 MAX aircraft the national airline had ordered in July.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Immelt, MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof and MAS CEO Peter Bellew attended the signing.

GE, ranked among Fortune 500 companies, also powers AirAsia aircraft — the Airbus A320 and Airbus A330 — with its engines.

“We are big in oil and gas, we are big in aviation and we have a very strong presence (in Malaysia),” Immelt said, adding that GE employs about 1,400 people in Malaysia.

GE has worked closely with Petronas to spur the country’s oil and gas industry. One of the huge projects that the company is contributing to is Petronas’ Pengerang Integrated Complex (RAPID) in Johor.

Last week, GE announced that it would deliver 17 Emergency Diesel Generator (EDG) packages, five transportable switch rooms and the electrical balance of plant to RAPID through a partnership with Petronas’ subsidiary Prime Sourcing International.

The equipment will provide continuous back-up power for the PIC project.

The announcement was made at last week’s Power-Gen Asia industry conference in Seoul, South Korea, as part of GE’s unit, GE Power, US$800 million orders across the Asia Pacific region.

Immelt said GE also had good operations in other Asean countries, such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. The company was starting to venture into Myanmar.

“Each part of the Asean region is important and it’s one of the most dynamic and biggest regions in the world.”

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