GE, seeking path forward as a century old company, ousts CEO
Flannery took over for longtime CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt in August 2017 with the company trying to re-establish its industrial roots
BOSTON – After just over a year and declines on several fronts at General Electric, John has been ousted as the leader of the century-old company.
Flannery took over for longtime CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt in August 2017 with the company trying to re-establish its industrial roots, albeit a high-tech version of itself.
However, as Flannery has restructured the multinational conglomerate, its value has dipped below $100 billion and shares are down more than 35 per cent this year, following a 45 per cent decline in 2017.
It has not gotten any better.
The company was booted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average this summer and last month, shares tumbled to a nine-year low after revealing that its marquee gas turbine was flawed, an “oxidation issue” forcing the shutdown of a pair of power plants where they were in use.
GE warned Monday that it will miss its profit forecasts this year and it’s taking a $23 billion charge related to its power business.
H. Lawrence Culp Jr. will take over as chairman and CEO immediately. The 55-year-old Culp was CEO and president of Danaher Corp. from 2000 to 2014. During that time, Danaher’s market capitalization and revenues grew five-fold. He’s already a member of GE’s board.
It’s a track record that GE appears to need after a series of notable changes under Flannery failed to gain momentum immediately.
Flannery faced a titanic task in redirecting General Electric, which was founded in 1892 in Schenectady, New York.
Just six months after taking over as CEO, Flannery said the company would be forced to pay $15 billion to make up for the miscalculations of an insurance subsidiary. While Wall Street was aware of the issues at GE’s North American Life & Health, the size of the hit caught many off guard.
Flannery on the same day said that GE might take the radical step of splitting up the main company’s three main components — aviation, health care and power — into separate businesses.
In June GE said it would spin off its healthcare business and sell its interest in Baker Hughes, a massive oil services company. It’s been selling off assets and trying to sharpen its focus since the recession, when it’s finance division was hammered.
“GE still has too much debt and plenty to fix, but at least we have an outsider with an accelerated mandate to fix it,” said Scott Davis, founding partner of Melius Research, in a note to investors where he compared GE’s recent history to a slow but fatal train wreck. “If I’m a GE employee today, I’m happy for the turnaround, but expectations are about to get a whole lot higher…GE employees will either step up or will be replaced.”
Flannery vowed to give GE more of a high-tech and industrial focus by honing in on aviation, power and renewable energy – businesses with big growth potential. The shift is historic for a company that defined the phrase “household name.”
GE traces its roots to Thomas Edison and the invention of the light bulb, and the company grew with the American economy. At the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, it was one of the nation’s biggest lenders, its appliances were sold by the millions to homeowners around the world and it oversaw a multinational media powerhouse including NBC television.
But the economic crises revealed how unwieldy General Electric had become, with broad exposure damage during economic downturns.
Shares of General Electric Co., based in Boston, surged 11 per cent in midday trading.