Much Refrigerated: CEO's Exit Fills GE Colleagues With Warm Wishes

By Joann S. Lublin, Ted Mann and Thomas GrytaFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Chief Executive Jeff Immelt will give up control of General Electric Co. later this year. His colleagues were relieved to learn that he will also relinquish command of the office thermostat.

Mr. Immelt, who said this week he will end his 16-year captaincy of the conglomerate, is famous for preferring refrigerator-like temperatures in GE offices and meeting rooms. "He keeps it very cold," one person who has regularly endured the chill says. "It's part of the Immelt lore."

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As head of one of the world's biggest companies, Mr. Immelt dines with heads of state and jets around the globe to seal multibillion-dollar deals. He also gets to mess with the air conditioning, often asking for a setting that feels like the low 60s. Some colleagues feel so chilled that they wrap themselves in a scarf or shawl to attend a meeting with the GE leader.

"In the middle of summer, half the room would have a fleece vest on," says an adviser who has worked closely with GE executives.