Quickie: GE abandons offer to buy SLM

Oct 27, 2016 | Hot Topics

I wrote in September about GE’s strategy to acquire German company SLM, maker of 3D printing machines, as part of an effort to build a $1 billion additive manufacturing business by 2020. It appears that Elliot Management (which you may remember as a long-time activist investor in our landscape) acquired shares in SLM and told other investors that the deal with GE wasn’t in the best interest of SLM shareholders.This meant that GE wasn’t able to acquire the number of shares it needed to proceed the deal and so pulled the plug on it. From news accounts, it is unlikely to resurface.

In the same breath as announcing its intent to buy SLM, GE said it was acquiring Sweden’s Arcam. Elliot has also acquired a large number of shares in Arcam and could block a deal there, too.

It’s an interesting situation. It’s hard to tell exactly what Elliot means when it says “not in the best interest” but let’s assume it’s financial — they believe the company can get a better offer or have more success building value by going it alone. Given that GE was paying around 10x revenue for a hardware business, I’m not sure how much sweeter a deal there is. For its part, GE says it is turning its attention to SLM’s competitors in selective laser melting.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal and Industry Week.