October 2, 2017 / 9:01 PM / a year ago

Flannery takes GE chairman role as Immelt retires early

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.

General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt speaks at a news conference in Boston, Massachusetts, in this April 4, 2016, file photo. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files

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.

FILE PHOTO: General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt (R), Senior Vice President for Corporate Business Development John Flannery and Clara Gaymard (L), the head of GE France, leave after a meeting with French President to discuss the future of French engineering group Alstom at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 28, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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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