Jeff Immelt stepping down as CEO of GE

13 June, 2017, 10:47 | Author: Celia Hoffman
  • General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt speaks in May 2017 in Boston

General Electric Co's incoming chief executive said he will conduct a swift review of the conglomerate's business portfolio with "no constraint", but signalled no major changes as the company sticks with its strategy of selling software-related services across its many divisions.

Flannery, 55, will become chief executive of GE on August 1.

He will replace GE's current CEO and chairman, Jeff Immelt, who will step down after 16 years in the leadership roles.

"He made a lot of transformative calls, and, frankly, courageous calls and, I would say, frequently lonely calls", Flannery said. "He executed a massive portfolio transformation and navigated the company through economic cycles and business disruptions". Bloomberg quoted Flannery saying he will evaluate GE's (NYSE: GE) various businesses "with speed and with urgency and with no constraint".

"Jeff has positioned the company incredibly well for the future", said Brennan. Among other moves, Immelt got out of plastics, appliances, insurance, network TV, and almost all of GE Capital; he got into oilfield services, software, 3D printing, and more non-U.S. operations. It would take several years to determine the pay-off of some of Mr Immelt's initiatives, including a digital division, he said. "It's good for me to have change". GE on Monday reaffirmed its 2017 outlook while omitting mention of next year's profit target of $2 a share.

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Amid mounting pressure from activist investor Trian Fund Management, GE said Monday that Immelt will be replaced by John Flannery, a 30-year company veteran who oversaw a jump in profits at the health-care unit.

Immelt, who took over from the legendary Jack Welch, oversaw major deals such as the 2015 purchase of the power assets of French industrial giant Alstom and a spate of large divestments from GE Capital after the 2008 financial crisis that essentially unloaded what was effectively the fifth biggest United States bank after the financial crisis hit the unit.

Despite investing heavily on developing digital products, from sensors in jet engines to augmented reality software, shareholders have been wary of the company's new direction. Since Immelt became CEO in 2001, GE shares have fallen 29 percent, while its S&P 500 index has more than doubled. Not long ago, when Boston profiled him in a cover story, Immelt and his associates expressed that he had no plans of jumping ship. That led to an unusual disclosure in March in which GE said it had, in conjunction with Trian, pledged to lower annual spending by $2 billion in the next two years and tie executive bonuses to the effort. In an email Monday, Trian said it had no comment on the leadership change.

For GE, Flannery's stint in India is one of the feathers in his cap. During his tenure Immelt also disposed of GE's appliance unit and the NBC television business. It has been the worst performer of the Dow Jones industrial average since that time. "Our focus is running the company for cash and growth".

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