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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 16:53 GMT
Smiths in 2.5bn aerospace sale
Smiths Group-made cockpit canopy
Smiths makes a wide range of aerospace products
Smiths Group has agreed to sell its aerospace division to US giant General Electric (GE) for 2.5bn ($4.8bn).

The UK aerospace-to-medical equipment maker said it was a cash deal, and that it would return 2.1bn to shareholders.

Smiths said it had decided to sell the aerospace unit to General Electric because of the increased investment requirements of the industry.

Smiths' shares closed up 11% at 1094.5 pence on the news. The firm's aerospace unit employs 11,000 staff in the UK.

'Great owner'

Smiths and GE also announced a new joint venture to manage their detection and security businesses.

By selling aerospace, we crystallise the value for our shareholders
Keith Butler-Wheelhouse, Smiths Group chief executive

Smiths will own 64% of the new operation with GE controlling the remainder.

"By selling aerospace, we crystallise the value for our shareholders," said Smiths chief executive Keith Butler-Wheelhouse.

"At the same time, we know that this business is going to a great owner."

Smiths added that it intended to complete the deal in the second quarter of this year.

General Electric is the world's second biggest company by market value.

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