Pentair and GE Water will base joint venture in Milwaukee area

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Pentair Inc. and GE Water & Process Technologies, a unit of the General Electric Co., announced they will locate the global headquarters of their drinking water quality joint venture business in the Milwaukee area.

The companies will combine Pentair’s global water softener business with GE’s residential water filtration business.

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Golden Valley, Minn.-based Pentair and Trevose, Pa.-based GE Water & Process Technologies both already have some operations in the Milwaukee area.

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GE spokeswoman Ellen Mellody said she could not be more specific about the location of the joint headquarters or how many jobs would be created in southeastern Wisconsin.

Under the terms of the agreement, Pentair has an 80-percent ownership stake and GE has a 20-percent stake of the joint venture, which will be called Pentair Residential Filtration.

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With the formation of the joint venture, Pentair and GE will be better positioned to serve residential customers with industry-leading technical applications in the areas of water conditioning, whole house filtration, point-of-use water management and water sustainability, said Randall Hogan, chairman and chief executive officer of Pentair.

“Further, this joint venture advances Pentair’s current residential filtration strategy for growth. We believe we will accelerate revenue growth by selling GE’s existing residential conditioning and treatment products through Pentair’s sales channels, and by gaining access to some of GE’s current and emerging filtration technologies,” Hogan said.

In 2007, the combined residential and commercial net sales of the parent companies were approximately $450 million.

“We are excited about the growth opportunities this unique partnership brings our business,” said Jeff Garwood, president and CEO of GE Water & Process Technologies. “Partnerships such as this one create an excellent opportunity to develop and introduce new technologies that will meet the needs of both developed and emerging markets. It is also another example of how GE continues to partner with industry leaders to drive growth while meeting the world’s most pressing water needs.”

Pentair Residential Filtration will serve as the primary sales channel for Pentair’s and GE’s respective global residential water filtration and water softener businesses. It will also serve as the manufacturing arm for residential and commercial tanks, valves and some limited filtration products for the parent companies.

Pentair and GE will continue to serve existing municipal, commercial and industrial water treatment customers separately, sourcing select products from the joint venture as needed.

Pentair Residential Filtration will bring together approximately 1,100 employees from Pentair and GE in 15 facilities in the United States, Europe and China.

The joint venture coming to southeastern Wisconsin is another win for the region’s growing identity as the “Silicon Valley of water technology.” The Milwaukee 7 and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are promoting the region as the “Fresh Coast.”

“It’s absolutely true that there is a growing need around the world in advanced drinking water quality,” Mellody said. “Water scarcity is increasing. Water quality is decreasing.”

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