General Electric will dive into the turbulent financial services industry, said chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt during a wide ranging interview from the Beijing Games, adding that he expects GE to double its business in China by 2010 to $10 billion a year.
"We're going to do deals right now in financial services that will fuel earnings for years," Immelt told CNBC's Carl Quintanilla in Beijing. "If you've got some cash, if you have a strong balance sheet, this is as good of a time you're going to see."
Although earnings are down almost 10 percent at is financial services unit, which provides 45 percent of GE profits, Immelt said GE has navigated choppy waters fairly well and that depressed asset prices would provide incentive to invest in some "great deals."
"Some of the best opportunities we've seen in the last 10 years we're seeing right now. Assets are cheap," said Immelt, according to the Associated Press. "In financial services, sometimes bad news is good news. You'll see some great deals done in this cycle, and we'll do some of them."
Immelt expressed delight with GE's revenues from the Beijing Olympics – $700 million from the sale of power and equipment for sports venues and $700 million in advertising from GE's NBC television network, the American broadcaster of the games. NBC Universal paid $900 million to broadcast the games.
Despite pressure from some shareholders to sell NBC Universal, Immelt said GE had no plans to sell its media unit.
"I always say, look, it's a good business. We run it well," said Immelt, according to AP.
Immelt said he expects GE to double its business in China within a few years, growth spurred by China's drive to improve energy efficiency and clean up the environment. China's investment in infrastructure will also boost GE's bottom line, Immelt added.
"We've seen great growth in China," Immelt told AP. "I think the whole focus on water and the environment, that's going to offer, we think, big opportunities for us as time goes on."
GE has 12,000 workers and one of its four research and development centers in China.