General Electric is nearing the end of its five-year journey back from the brink. For investors, a looming corporate breakup is only the beginning.

The future looked bleak for GE in October 2018. John Flannery had just been removed as CEO after a year at the helm. Profitability was declining. GE Capital was losing money. The acquisition of Alstom’s power business had proven disastrous. And investors were forced to sift through dozens of pages of disclosures to gain a coherent picture of the company’s financial condition.

Worse still, its massive debt load—some $112 billion, excluding cash and insurance liabilities—was growing more unwieldy as free cash flow deteriorated, resulting in downgrades from the major credit-rating firms and a slashing of its dividend to a penny per quarter.

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