Seeking Alpha today reported that Harry Markopolos, who once raised concerns over Bernie Madoff before his Ponzi scheme was exposed, said GE’s insurance unit will need to increase its reserves immediately by $18.5B in cash with an additional non-cash charge of $10.5B when new accounting rules take effect in 2021, and alleged GE is not properly accounting for its interest in Baker Hughes.
Following is GE’s rebuttal to Markopolos:
BOSTON – GE today issued the following statement in response to allegations made in a report by Harry Markopolos:
“The claims made by Mr. Markopolos are meritless. The Company has never met, spoken to or had contact with Mr. Markopolos, and we are extremely disappointed that an individual with no direct knowledge of GE would choose to make such serious and unsubstantiated claims. GE operates at the highest level of integrity and stands behind its financial reporting. We remain focused on running our businesses every day, following the strategic path we have laid out.
“Mr. Markopolos openly acknowledges that he is compensated by unnamed hedge funds. Such funds are financially motivated to attempt to generate short selling in a company’s stock to create unnecessary volatility. The report states that his company ‘entered into an agreement with a third-party entity to review an advanced copy of the Report in exchange for later-provided compensation….those positions taken by the third-party entity are designed to generate profits should the price of GE securities decrease’ and ‘members of the Company are personally in possession of securities, derivatives, and/or other financial instruments of, and/or relating to, GE, which may generate profits should the price of GE securities decrease.’”
Addressing Mr. Markopolos’ allegations:
- GE Insurance: We believe that our current reserves are well-supported for our portfolio characteristics, and we undertake rigorous reserve adequacy testing every year. The future implementation of the GAAP insurance accounting standard does not align GAAP and statutory reserves as Mr. Markopolos alleges, but rather will be dependent on a number of variables that will not affect statutory accounting, which drives our funding requirements.
- BHGE accounting: As a majority shareholder of BHGE, we are required to report BHGE on a consolidated basis under U.S. GAAP, contrary to what Mr. Markopolos alleges. Further, consolidation of BHGE by GE includes additional disclosure of BHGE’s results made through BHGE segment results reporting in the notes to GE’s consolidated financial statements. BHGE is also a stand-alone SEC registrant with its own separate SEC filings under Form 10-Q and 10-K as a separate company. In the most recent 10Q, GE disclosed the loss upon deconsolidation of BHGE from a sale of our interest (taking us below our current majority position) would be approximately $7.4B as of July 26, 2019.
- GE’s liquidity: Contrary to Mr. Markopolos’ allegations, GE continues to maintain a strong liquidity position, committed credit lines, and several executable options to monetize assets. The Company ended the second quarter with $16.9B of Industrial Cash excluding BHGE, $12.5B of liquidity at GE Capital and access to $35B of credit facilities. As it relates to GE’s leverage targets, as the Company has previously stated during 2Q earnings, it expects to make significant progress towards these goals by the end of 2020.