GE is said to file confidentially for IPO for its health unit

General Electric has confidentially filed for an initial public offering of its healthcare unit, according to people familiar with the matter.

If so, it appears that the company is moving ahead with plans to spin off its second most profitable business line.

The industrial conglomerate is working with Goldman Sachs Group, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley on the planned listing, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public. A public filing is likely next spring, they said.

A GE representative declined to comment on plans for the health unit.

“As we announced in June, as an independent global healthcare business, we will have greater flexibility to pursue future growth opportunities, react quickly to changes in the industry and invest in innovation,” GE said in an emailed statement.

Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan declined to comment.

A public listing of GE’s healthcare unit would follow a similar move by Germany’s Siemens, which sold shares in its Healthineers business in March. The shares are up 32 percent since the IPO, valuing Siemens Healthineers at about 37 billion euros, or $42 billion.

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A GE logo sits on a panel as an employee works inside the General Electric Co. power plant in Veresegyhaz, Hungary, on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. General Electric won approval on Monday from the U.S. Justice Department to combine its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes Inc. Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

A newly public GE healthcare company would rank among the world’s largest, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Karen Ubelhart said in June. Based on the valuation of peer companies, the new entity could have an enterprise value, which includes debt, of $65 billion to $70 billion, Ubelhart said.

With the spinout, GE will retreat from one of its largest and most profitable markets. GE Healthcare, which earned $3.5 billion last year on sales of $19 billion, specializes in equipment such as MRI scanners and mobile diagnostic machines. The company also has a fast-growing life-sciences division, which accounts for about a quarter of GE Healthcare’s sales.

Still, healthcare has drawn scrutiny from some GE investors, who argue that it doesn’t fit well with GE’s primary business of making industrial equipment, such as jet engines and gas turbines. Former Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt in particular was criticized for the costly 2004 acquisition of British medical company Amersham.

GE is moving away from the market as the company tries to narrow its focus, boost cash and stem one of the deepest slumps in its 126-year history. It agreed in April to sell a trio of healthcare information businesses for $1.05 billion. It’s possible that GE could pursue alternatives to an IPO for its healthcare unit, too.

The separation effort picked up pace in June, as then-Chief Executive Officer John Flannery unveiled a plan to sell 20 percent of GE Healthcare and spin off the rest to shareholders. After he was ousted in October amid mounting problems in the power division, successor Larry Culp went a step further, saying he may sell an even bigger piece of the health unit.