Jeff Immelt, the man who succeeded Jack Welch as CEO and the person CBS News described as “the jobs czar,” is stepping down at General Electric at the end of 2017. John Flannery, the current president and CEO of GE Healthcare, will replace Immelt.
The news comes just one business day after tED magazine reported GE announced it is selling its GE Lighting division, a division that was co-founded by Thomas Edison.
The 61-year-old Immelt will stay on as chairman until his retirement from the position at the end of the year, with the 55-year-old Flannery stepping into the role after that.
Immelt has been at the helm of the conglomerate for 16 years, overseeing a transformation that included selling many of the company's units. Over that time, General Electric sold its insurance, credit card, plastics and security divisions. In 2013, under Immelt's direction, GE sold NBC television to Comcast for $16.7 billion dollars.
It also invested more heavily in new technologies, including a recent $1.65 billion acquisition of LM Wind Power, a Denmark-based manufacturer of rotor blades for wind turbines.
Flannery is a longtime General Electric executive, starting his career at GE Capital in 1987. He became president and CEO of the company's equity unit in 2002 and eventually joined the health care unit in 2014, focusing on advanced technologies.
In October of 2009, while the country was battling a severe recession, President Obama called on Immelt, a life-long Republican, to lead a new “jobs council.” The CBS News Show “60 Minutes” referred to Immelt as the new “Jobs Czar.” Some at the time criticized Immelt and GE for the number of GE jobs outside of the U.S. In fact, nearly 60 percent of GE's revenue came from overseas work. But Immelt was focused on manufacturing in the United States, including building a new factory in Mississippi and adding 15,000 jobs. And, Immelt brought jobs back from China and Mexico in 2009 to help spur the U.S. job market.
Immelt has recently battled with President Trump in the media, expressing his opposition to the President's travel ban, the decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, and building a wall at the Mexican border.
Jack Brennan, lead independent director for GE's Board of Directors, said in a news release, “Jeff has positioned the company incredibly well for the future. He executed a massive portfolio transformation and navigated the company through economic cycles and business disruptions. Today, GE is a high-tech industrial company with a bright future. Jeff was a particularly adept steward of GE's culture. He knows thousands of GE people all over the world and worked relentlessly to simplify the culture and unleash the GE entrepreneurial spirit. The plan for the GE CEO transition process was set in 2011. With the GE Capital pivot behind us, and the company's transition to Boston complete, this is the ideal time for change. The board is confident that in the years to come, GE investors and employees will benefit from Jeff's hard work.”
In addition, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bornstein was named vice chair and Kieran Murphy was named president and CEO of GE Healthcare to succeed Flannery.
GE said Monday that the moves were part of its succession plan. Shares of General Electric Co. climbed more than 3 percent in premarket trading. They are down about 7.6 percent over the last 12 months.
Sections of this story came from the Associated Press
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