Siemens' new chief executive made his debut on Wednesday with a politically astute disposal, a surprise acquisition but a weak set of third-quarter results, sending Siemens shares down more than 4 percent.

The German industrial conglomerate said it would sell its automotive unit, VDO, which it had originally planned to list on the stock market, to car-parts supplier Continental for 11.4 billion euros ($15.7 billion).

The price was less than the 12 or even 13 billion euros that some media had reported Continental and rival suitor TRW were prepared to pay.

Siemens also announced it would acquire U.S. clinical diagnostics company Dade Behring for about $7 billion to bolster its medical equipment division.

Ultimately, Siemens needs to get faster, less complex and more focused. Today's announcements regarding Siemens VDO Automotive and Medical Solutions are important steps in that direction, CEO Peter Loescher said in a statement.

The news temporarily eclipsed Siemens' third-quarter results, which were released a day early and were weaker than expected on all fronts.

Siemens shares traded down 4.6 percent at 101.20 euros by 1303 GMT, by far the biggest decliners in a 0.6-percent weaker German blue-chip DAX index.

Third-quarter orders rose 13 percent to 22.15 billion euros, less than the 22.44 billion-euro average forecast in a Reuters poll after rivals General Electric and Alstom reported booming demand for infrastructure products and services.

Operating profit also disappointed, rising 22 percent to 1.5 billion euros, below the 1.94 billion poll average.

Siemens said the result was hurt by negative equity investment income of 371 million euros related to Nokia Siemens Networks, its telecoms equipment joint venture with mobile phone maker Nokia.

Sales rose 8 percent to 20.18 billion euros and net profit rose to 2.07 billion euros in the quarter, helped by a gain from the transfer of assets into NSN.