GE’s purchase of Bently complete |

GE’s purchase of Bently complete

Jeff Munson, Tribune News Service

MINDEN — In what company officials call one of the biggest acquisitions in years, General Electric Power Systems now owns Bently Nevada Corp., Carson Valley’s largest non-gaming employer.

In a signing agreement in San Francisco on Wednesday, company founder Don Bently turned over the company that he started in 1961 to GE for an undisclosed price. Bently said Friday that it was between $600 million and $900 million.

“GE is one of the best in the world. The company is in good hands,” the 77-year-old Bently said from his office in Minden on Friday.

A tentative agreement was reached in November on the sale and went through nearly two months of federal regulatory review. GE Power Systems spokesman Dennis Murphy said the Atlanta-based company does not have to disclose the sale price because the acquisition agreement came from private ownership.

“They honored the agreement we made,” Bently said, adding that GE accepted the sale price on his terms.

All operations at Bently will remain status quo and all employees have been retained, Murphy said.

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“Bently Nevada is an organization made up of very talented people,” Murphy said. “GE is an exceptional corporate citizen and we’re looking forward to being a part of the community.”

He said there are no plans to move the operation including the Minden headquarters, which employs about 1,200 people. There are also no plans to make changes to facilities in Houston, England and India. Combined the locations employ about 900 people.

Bently said the decision was made so that he could focus more time on his interests in agriculture technology and selling his pressurized bearing technology.

“I’m ready to start my new bearings operation that I predict will be very successful,” Bently said.

Retained by Bently are his other business interests including the pressurized bearings labs, oil analysis labs, 38,000-plus acres of agricultural land in and around Carson Valley and numerous real estate holdings in the United States and abroad.

John Rice, president and CEO of GE Power Systems, was enthusiastic about the acquisition.

“With the addition of Bently Nevada, we will be able to provide an even more comprehensive portfolio of products and services to meet our customers’ power needs,” Rice said. “Bently Nevada’s strong technology and engineering resources will provide us with an integrated products and solutions platform for machine monitoring and diagnostics.”

Bently officials confirmed Friday that Rice will visit the Minden plant sometime in February.

GE Power Systems is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation technology, energy services and management systems, with 2000 revenue of $15 billion.

Bently is a well-known Carson Valley entrepreneur, who incorporated his electronics company in Nevada in 1961 with a work force of three people.

The company now employs more than 2,100 people worldwide, including 1,200 in Carson Valley. Consolidated worldwide sales in 2001 were more than $230 million.

Steve Sabin, corporate marketing manager for Bently Nevada, said the company won’t make major changes in the short term.

“What I expect is there will be some organizational changes, and the organizational chart will look different, but I don’t expect the number of employees to change,” Sabin said.

Sabin said employees should feel secure with their jobs. GE has told him there are no plans to move the operation, which includes a new 283,000-square-foot, $30 million headquarters.

“This should (quell) rumors that GE doesn’t have a commitment to the area,” Sabin said. “They purchased the building. This is significant.”