General Electric Co. ( NYSE: GE) said on Monday that it will sell its GE Plastics business to Saudi Basic Industries Corp. for $11.6 billion cash.

This sale is the right move at the right time for GE shareowners, General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement. We received a good price from a respected global company in a highly competitive bidding process.

GE put the waning division on the block last January. Profit in the GE's Plastics unit slipped 22 percent to $674 million last year, on sales of $6.65 billion in 2006.

GE, the world's second largest company behind Exxon, will receive after-tax proceeds of $9 billion, which will be used mainly to fund a stock buyback initiative, it said.

The move is also one in a string of acquisitions by Sabic, the world's largest chemical company by market value. In earlier deals, it acquired DSM Petrochemicals business in Europe and the Huntsman Petrochemicals business in the UK.

This acquisition of GE Plastics represents another step in Sabic's growth and diversification to become one of the world's leading manufacturing companies,'' said Mohammed Al- Mady, Sabic vice chairman and CEO, in a statement.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Shares of GE rose 22 cents, or 0.60 percent to $37.18 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.