Jeff Immelt, the longtime leader of General Electric Co., is stepping aside as chairman and leaving the board of the industrial giant several months ahead of schedule.
Mr. Immelt, who resigned from the CEO role on Aug. 1 after 16 years at the helm, is handing over the chairman's seat to his successor John Flannery, effective immediately.
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The company said Mr. Immelt had determined the CEO transition was proceeding smoothly and that Mr. Flannery was ready to take over as chairman, according to a regulatory filing made Monday. The filing says the board concurred.
The move shrinks the size of GE's board from 19 to 18 directors.
Mr. Immelt decided to step down sooner than expected to give Mr. Flannery full control as he prepares to make some difficult changes at the company, said people familiar with the matter. The move also frees Mr. Immelt to pursue other opportunities, they added.
Mr. Immelt has been exploring a future after GE. During the summer, he held discussions with Uber Technologies Inc. about joining the company as its CEO, but withdrew his candidacy the same day Uber selected the head of Expedia Inc. instead.
GE has been under pressure from activist investor Trian Fund Management to slash costs and boost its profits. Trian didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Flannery is conducting a strategic review and has promised to share his plans with investors in November, but in the meantime has been cutting costs, including grounding the company's corporate jets and delaying part of its new headquarters project in Boston.
On Monday, Mr. Immelt also stepped down as chairman of Baker Hughes, a position he took earlier this year after he combined GE's oil business with the oil-field services company. Baker Hughes said its board had elected its CEO, Lorenzo Simonelli, another of Mr. Immelt's lieutenants, to take over as chairman effective Monday.
Joann S. Lublin contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 02, 2017 18:11 ET (22:11 GMT)