BEIJING (AP) - Haier Group, the world's biggest appliance maker, is buying General Electric Co.'s appliance business for $5.4 billion to expand its global presence.

BEIJING (AP) Haier Group, the world's biggest appliance maker, is buying General Electric Co.'s appliance business for $5.4 billion to expand its global presence.

The acquisition announced Friday comes as Haier tries to shed its image as a low-cost brand and move into premium market segments. GE is shifting emphasis from traditional businesses to higher-technology, higher-profit areas such as medical equipment.

The two companies said they also agreed to form a strategic partnership to cooperate in areas such as the Internet, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.

Haier, headquartered in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, reported 2014 revenue of $32.6 billion. It said the GE acquisition would be carried out by its unit Qingdao Haier Co., Ltd., a publicly traded entity of which Haier owns 41 percent.

GE Appliances reported $5.9 billion in 2014 revenue. It has 12,000 employees, 96 percent of them in the United States.

"This strategic alliance provides a new starting point for both Haier and GE and I am confident that this partnership will deliver enhanced value to the stakeholders of both companies," said the Haier Group chairman, Zhang Ruimin, in a statement.