Former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, the scandal-plagued leader who was ousted after years at the helm of the company, is responsible for destroying the sprawling, multinational conglomerate, according to Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone.
“He had a big steel ball on a crane and he destroyed it as if he was tearing down an old building,” Langone said on Friday during an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo.
Immelt was handpicked in 2001 to take over the company by legendary CEO Jack Welch, but in August 2017, Immelt was replaced by John Flannery, who was removed as CEO on Monday and replaced with H. Lawrence Culp Jr., effective immediately.
In January, sources told FOX Business that Welch’s assessment of Immelt’s tenure was “scathing,” and that he’d privately conceded one of the biggest mistakes he made in his wide-spanning career as chief executive was appointing Immelt as his successor. Immelt came under fire last October when it was revealed that he would fly with two private jets when traveling in case the one he was riding in had “mechanical problems.”
GE – once the industrial titan of American business – has struggled financially in the past decade, relinquishing control of many businesses, including NBCUniversal. This year alone, GE has lost more than 35 percent of its value. In June, the Dow Jones Industrial Average also removed the 125-year-old company from the index after more than 110 years.
“He took the most valuable corporation on Earth in 2000, and today, there’s the possibility that General Electric’s bonds might very well become junk status,” Langone said.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that credit ratings agency Moody’s had placed GE on review for a downgrade. S&P Global Ratings downgraded GE and GE Capital earlier this week.
“The tragedy is these poor people that spent their whole lives in GE and believed in Mother General Electric and invested money in the stock,” Langone said.
Shares of GE were trading around $13.20 Friday afternoon.