GE Infrastructure of Wilton, Connecticut, USA, is to acquire American water-treatment equipment maker Ionics for about $1.1 billion plus existing debt. Ionics will join GE Infrastructure’s Water & Process Technologies business unit when the transaction completes.

Bill Woodburn, President and CEO of GE Infrastructure, said the deal gives his company “significant revenue and cost synergies” to improve development of water purifying technologies.

Doug Brown, CEO of Ionics added: “By combining our technology with GE’s and by accessing GE’s financial expertise and world class international organisation, we substantially enhance our ability to deliver our water purification services globally.”

The merger is subject to the approval of the holders of at least two thirds of outstanding common shares of Ionics and to government approval. It is expected to close in the first half of 2005.

Power plant operators use Ionics equipment to bring waste waster discharge to within statutory limits, to purify boiler-feed water in nuclear power stations and to re-use waste-water in combined cycle facilities.

Ionics bought water purifier Ecolochem of Norfolk, Virginia, USA, in February.