General Electric’s (GE) annual meeting, held Wednesday near Pittsburgh, produced a cascade of shareholder criticism against the conglomerate's last two CEOs.
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Jack Welch, who ran GE from 1981 to 2001, was critiqued for picking the “wrong guy” to take the helm of the company, Jeff Immelt, who ran the company from 2001 to 2017. Immelt received a great deal of blame for the company’s undoing, and there was even the suggestion that the company should look at clawing back some of his compensation and pension payments.
GE retiree Bill Freeda called for an internal investigation for alleged wrongdoing by Immelt and the board of directors, referencing the use of a spare backup plane for the CEO, revealed by The Wall Street Journal in 2017.
Mr. Flannery said the board takes such issues seriously and would investigate any evidence of wrongdoing. "It is important for us to distinguish between performance outcomes and misconduct," he said.
Other board nominees, including James Tisch, were critiqued, with recommendations to vote against keeping him on the board.
Overall, they were positive about current CEO John Flannery, and his moves to right the ship since he took leadership.
GE is requesting that its shareholders elect the 12 directors named in the proxy for the coming year.
According to Dow Jones, protesters gathered outside of the meeting.
GE’s shares declined on Wednesday, taking a hit after credit reporting agency Moody's Investors Service affirmed the ratings on GE and its GE Capital finance arm, but changed its ratings outlook to Negative.
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