JEFF IMMELT looks like he was born to be a chief executive. Tall, affable and energetic, he was selected to run General Electric (GE) in 2001 after an interminable and mildly sadistic selection process run by GE’s then CEO Jack Welch, at the time America’s most celebrated boss. After 16 years at the top, on June 12th Mr Immelt said he would retire, to be replaced by John Flannery, who runs the firm’s health-care arm. The departing boss has reshaped GE radically but his legacy as the boss of the world’s most important industrial company is a mixed one.
Part of that reflects what he inherited. GE was not in nearly as good shape as Mr Welch liked to pretend. Its share price was significantly overvalued, pumped up by hype about Mr Welch’s talents, while its profits were inflated by gains from its pension scheme and its financial arm,…Continue reading