GE Healthcare, a maker of diagnostic imaging equipment, said Monday it is moving its X-ray global headquarters from the United States to Beijing as it seeks to tap China and other emerging markets.
The General Electric Co. unit is the first business of the industrial and financial giant to relocate to China.
Anne LeGrand, vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare Global X-Ray, told a news conference that the decision to move from Waukesha, Wisconsin, was made two years ago and will be completed by early fall.
She said "there is certainly the opportunity" to move other GE Healthcare units to China, but that is "something that we will continue to evaluate."
The move involves LeGrand and a handful of her top managers. In an interview, she said they will add other people to the team as they expand in China, but no jobs will be lost.
The move follows an announcement last year that GE plans to invest $2 billion in China, including $500 million in six research centers, one of which GE X-ray is developing in Chengdu in central China. The company has already hired "close to 100 engineers" for the center in Chengdu, LeGrand said.
Rachel Duan, president and CEO of GE Healthcare China, said they plan to launch more than 20 new products in China over the next two years. Some 70 percent of those will be aimed at general medical professionals who make up the primary healthcare sector.
Duan said they will be developed for customers in China, "but we see a potential down the road for exporting to some of the other emerging markets."
LeGrand said some of the products they had developed in China were now being sold elsewhere, such as the Ling Long digital X-ray, now being sold in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. She said emerging markets represented "double digit growth" for GE's X-ray business.
Over the past two decades, GE Healthcare China has focused on the high-end market in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou and selling to large hospitals. Now they also intend to focus on the primary care sector in poorer parts of the country, including rural areas, Duan said.