General Electric Co. is considering selling or divesting itself of its appliances business, the Wall Street Journal said on its website late Wednesday.

GE could receive between $5 billion and $8 billion from its sale of the unit which makes refrigerators, stoves and other similar appliances, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

The company has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc to run an auction for the unit. GE and Goldman Sachs are expected to begin distributing sales materials to possible buyers in the next few weeks.

The company has been planning to sell the unit even before it reported its first quarter earnings, a person familiar with the matter said. In its latest quarter, GE reported that its profit had declined by 5.9 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago, causing shares to tumble.

Chief executive Jeffrey Immelt has also been considering management changes at the GE Healthcare medical-equipment unit, getting more directly involved with decision-making, including speaking with executives who run some businesses in it, people familiar with the matter said.

Before the today's report of the sale plans, shares of GE rose 18 cents, or 0.56 percent to close at $32.51 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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