Jeff Immelt, the long standing Chairman of U.S. conglomerate General Electric, has retired from his position. Mr. Immelt is retiring at least a couple of months earlier than expected.
Immelt had announced his retirement in June as the CEO; however, he was planning to stay on board as the chairman of GE until December.
John Flannery, who replaced Immelt as CEO in August, will succeed Immelt.
“Jeff feels John is prepared to be chairman and CEO now, and leaving GE allows him to look at opportunities outside the company,” a GE spokeswoman told CNBC.
Immelt succeeded Jack Welch as CEO in 2001. He helped with the restructuring of GE Capital in shifting the company’s focus from finance toward manufacturing. Since his appointment he has walked the company through some major crises. Almost immediately after his appointment he led GE through the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He then was pressed to defend GE’s business model and the quality of its financial reports as the economy reeled from the Enron crisis. In 2008-2009 he shepherded GE through the United States financial crisis.
Since his takeover in 2001, the stock prices of GE have dropped by 40 percent, while the income has risen from $15.1 billion in 2002 to $16.9 billion in 2013.
Immelt has also stepped down as the chairman of GE’s oil services unit Baker Hughes. He was succeeded by CEO Lorenzo Simonelli.
The company declared this change in the leadership as part of a methodical progression; however, GE had been hard hit by falling oil prices.
John Flannery, the new CEO and chairman, has been employed with GE since 1987 and has held various leadership positions across GE. Most recently he was the head of GE’s health care division.