GE OFFERS TO DIVEST NEARLY 20% OF ITS AIRCRAFT LEASING ARM

BRUSSELS,Belgium/NEW YORK

Reuters news service reports General Electric Co. is ready to divest 19.9 percent of its aircraft leasing arm in a renewed bid to win European Union approval for its proposed $41.2 billion takeover of Honeywell Int’l Inc., sources close to the talks said Thursday. GE’s overture is, on the face of it, exactly what the EU is looking for, but it is unknown whether there may still be critical details that could derail the deal.

Time is closing in on GE, but the discussions raised hopes of a settlement between the company and the EU only two weeks after GE made a “final” offer, and little more than a week after the company’s president said there was “zero” chance of success.

Only two weeks remain to the Commission’s legally binding final deadline of July 12 to rule on the case. Concessions can only be made at such a late stage of the merger review under special circumstances, which may be met in this case.

The EU’s 20 commissioners are currently scheduled to vote on whether to approve or block the merger on July 3 in Strasbourg, France. Honeywell shares closed $1.20 higher at $38.20 on Thursday, and General Electric shares closed up 61 cents at $48.87.

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