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GE chief exit hint

Immelt: On the move

New York, April 15 (Reuters): General Electric Co’s chief executive Jeff Immelt may step down sooner than his expected 20-year tenure, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the company’s thinking.

Immelt, who has been at the helm of the industrial conglomerate since 2001, has led several board discussions about shortening the expected tenure for GE’s next chief executive to between 10 and 15 years, the journal said.

Among the leading candidates identified to succeed Immelt are Lorenzo Simonelli, who took over the leadership of GE’s oil and gas unit last year; and Steve Bolze, who leads power and water, GE’s biggest unit.

GE spokesman Gary Sheffer said the company did not comment on speculation. “The GE board routinely discusses succession planning, which is a key part of its responsibilities,” he said.

The company said last month Immelt had 1.96 million of GE shares. The CEO is the largest insider stakeholder, according to Thomson Reuters data, though his stake trails far behind those of the large institutional holders of GE stock.

Immelt has been emphasising a “culture of simplification” to streamline the company and drew his inspiration from the “lean start-up” idea popular in technology circles.

“The biggest risks at GE are the inability to seize market opportunities,” Immelt wrote in an annual letter to shareholders last month. “Simplification is making us more competitive.”

The effort involved reducing the size of the finance unit, GE Capital, which once loaded up on risky bets that wounded its parent company in the financial crisis.

With inputs from the New York Times News Service

 
 
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