General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) named John Flannery, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, as chief executive Monday, effective August 1, ending the nearly 16-year tenure of Jeff Immelt. This is part of succession plan GE put in place in 2011.
Immelt, 61, will remain as chairman through the end of the year, when he will retire.
“He brings unique experience and a strong skill set to the job,” said Jack Brennan, lead independent director for GE’s board of directors. “John has spent almost half of his career living outside of the United States and has led complex financial and industrial businesses all over the world, including running GE Healthcare, GE in India and the business development team for GE.”
Flannery, 55, began his career at GE Capital in 1987, where he focused on evaluating risk for leveraged buy-outs, according to a press release from GE. In the 1990s, he was a leader in the corporate restructuring and workout group. In 1997, he moved to Argentina, where he led GE’s Equity business in Latin America and the overall GE Capital business for Argentina and Chile.
In 2002, Flannery became the president and CEO of GE Equity. Three years later, he moved to Asia, where he was responsible for the Asia Pacific region for GE Capital. In 2013, he was chosen to helm business development at GE Corporate, where he focused on capital allocation for the company and led the acquisition of Alstom, the largest industrial acquisition in the company’s history.
Flannery joined GE Healthcare in 2014 and boosted organic revenue by 5%. He expanded Life Sciences and also launched Sustainable Healthcare Solutions.
“In the next few months, my focus will be on listening to investors, customers and employees to determine the next steps for GE,” said Flannery.
Immelt succeeded iconic executive Jack Welch, who put his stamp on the company by increasing the breadth of its businesses. Immelt spent a good portion of his time at GE downsizing the company, casting off divisions such as the NBC television network and its appliances division, as well as many of the assets of the profitable GE Capital unit.
Immelt took the helm of GE just four days before the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 and steered the company through the 2008 financial crisis. The company credited Immelt with leading GE “through a portfolio transformation, the 9/11 tragedy, the power and pension bubbles, the financial crisis and oil price dynamics.”
GE said that during Immelt’s tenure, the company nearly doubled its industrial profit, and operating earnings per share were rose about 50%. While CEO, GE returned $143 billion to investors in dividends, more than in the entire prior history of the company.
“Jeff has positioned the company incredibly well for the future,” said Brennan. “He executed a massive portfolio transformation and navigated the company through economic cycles and business disruptions.”
Investors bid up GE stock 4% in premarket trading. The company’s shares had been down more than 11% so far this year, and the stock was the second-worst performer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 stocks, behind Verizon.