October 2, 2017 / 8:58 PM / a year ago

Flannery takes GE chairman role as Immelt retires early

Jeff Immelt delivers a speech during the opening of a new tower of the Global Operations Center in San Pedro Garza Garcia, neighbouring Monterrey, Mexico May 12, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) named John Flannery chairman of the board on Monday, three months ahead of schedule, after former CEO Jeff Immelt retired earlier than expected from the chairmanship.

The maker of aircraft engines, locomotives, power plants and other industrial equipment also named Lorenzo Simonelli chairman of Baker Hughes GE, succeeding Immelt. Simonelli is CEO of that business, which GE acquired in July.

Immelt’s early departure will free him to go after opportunities outside GE, said a source familiar with the situation. Immelt last month took himself out of the running for the CEO job at ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc[UBER.UL].

GE said Immelt had decided that the handover of his CEO job to Flannery had already “proceeded smoothly” and that Flannery was ready to take on the additional duties of chairman.

Immelt handed over the GE CEO role to Flannery on Aug. 1, capping 16 years leading the 125-year-old company. As CEO, he transformed GE’s portfolio, focusing it on major industrial products and mapping a strategy to develop a platform for industrial-related software and services.

In the last two years, Immelt came under overt pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management, which was among investors who thought GE’s financial and stock performance needed to improve.

GE also named W. Geoffrey Beattie as lead independent director at Baker Hughes. Beattie was CEO of the Woodbridge Co, the Thomson family company that controls news and financial information provider Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO).

Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; editing by Clive McKeef

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