At CES 2016, China’s Haier showed off a range of connected appliances it hopes to bring to the U.S. market with its U+ Smart Life platform. Today General Electric announced it’s selling its appliance brand to Haier for $5.4 billion, which Reuters calls the latter company’s biggest deal ever.
Last year, Electrolux attempted to purchase the business for $3.3 billion, but the U.S. Department of Justice raised antitrust concerns in December.
The GE Appliances brand name will remain, as will the company’s management, and the headquarters will stay in Louisville, Kentucky. This news comes just days after GE announced it would move its headquarters to Boston. Meanwhile, Haier already has an industrial park in Camden, South Carolina.
It will be interesting to see what comes of the GE acquisition. “Qingdao Haier and GE Appliances are highly complementary businesses, particularly in the areas of brand, market, product innovation, and supply chain and quality management,” Haier chairman Liang Haishan said in a related statement. Haier’s innovations go beyond its R2-D2-inspired fridge, and GE has shown its commitment to quirky, cool projects with First Build, which has generated products such as the Nugget Ice Maker and ChillHub fridge.
Haier’s commitment to “‘zero distance to the consumer’ … bodes well for our continued strong product development here in Louisville and Appliance Park, and also at First Build,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said at a press conference.
One further area of interest that both companies have in common is that each of them has been independently working on magnetic refrigeration. Haier showed off its solid-state wine fridge at both IFA 2015 and CES 2016. GE wants to bring the technology to full-size fridges, because it’s quieter and more energy efficient than appliances that use compressors, and it doesn’t require refrigerant. In other words, it would be a game-changing technology, as far as fridges go.