Reports: GE Hydro global shake-up to close Montreal plant, move HQ to Brazil

News media reports from Canada say global restructuring by General Electric of its GE Energy unit will close the GE Hydro equipment factory in the Montreal area as well as move the hydropower business headquarters from Schenectady, N.Y., to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

GE officials authorized to comment on the reports were not immediately available.

The Canadian Press reported restructuring would close the turbine manufacturing plant in the Montreal suburb of Lachine and operations in Peterborough, Ontario, in June 2008. The report said about 450 workers in Montreal would lose their jobs, although some would be relocated to other businesses. It was not immediately clear how many would be affected in Peterborough, where workers focus on engineering and technical drafting, the report said.

GE spokeswoman Kim Warburton told the Canadian Press that the closing was not a result of conditions in Canada. �This is a global realignment of the entire business,� she said.

Warburton was quoted saying the restructuring realigns the division’s activities with regions that are expected to have the strongest growth.

The Toronto Star said GE’s focus in Canada would change from manufacturing to service as service facilities in St. Augustin and Beloeil, Quebec, are to be unaffected by the changes. St. Augustin works with metal enclosures for wiring and accessories, while Beloeil is a generator rewind center, it said.

In addition to the New York headquarters move to Brazil, the Star said facilities in Doncaster, United Kingdom, would be phased out and Norway operations would be sold and moved to a new company. Manufacturing is to move to Brazil and Finland, it said.

The 89-year-old Lachine facility built turbine-generators for numerous plants including the giant Churchill Falls and James Bay projects in Canada. Canadian Press said employees were told the plant’s activities would end with completion of outstanding contracts with James Bay area projects.

Word of the GE Hydro restructuring came less than four months after the collapse of a deal in which GE Energy’s hydropower business was to be purchased by Argentina’s Pescarmona Group of Companies (PGC). (HNN 6/14/07) GE had announced in December 2006 that it agreed to sell GE Hydro to PGC, parent of Argentina-based hydro industry supplier IMPSA.

GE’s hydro operation is based in Schenectady and employs 2,000 people globally.

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