General Electric (GE) named John Flannery chairman 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.
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, getting out of its big but capital-hungry finance business, 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.