GE continues energy M&A spate with $3.2 billion deal

BOSTON (Reuters) - General Electric Co <GE.N> reached a $3.2 billion agreement to acquire a maker of automation systems used in the oil and gas sector, marking the latest in a series of deals to boost its presence in the energy industry.

The largest U.S. conglomerate said its acquisition of Massy, France-based Converteam would boost its offering of high-efficiency electric devices used across the energy industry.

With this deal, GE has now reached $11 billion in takeovers over the past six months in the energy sector alone, reflecting an effort by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt to move the company away from its former dependence on financial services and back toward its industrial core.

GE said it would buy about 90 percent of Converteam from a group of shareholders that include Barclays Private Equity and LBO France. Converteam's existing management will retain a 10 percent stake in the company.

Converteam generated $1.5 billion in 2010 sales, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization came to $239 million. It employs 5,300 people.

Shares of GE were unchanged at $19.75 in trading before the market opened.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)