GE's Jreffrey Inmelt retires as chairman, quits board

General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt has ended his association with the company retiring as chairman, quitting the board about three months ahead of schedule.

John Flannery, who took over as chief executive officer from Immelt in August, was elected chairman, GE said in a statement yesterday. Immelt took the step after deteriming ''that the CEO transition has proceeded smoothly,'' according to the maker of jet engines, gas turbines and ultrasound machines.

According to commentators, the development speeds up GE's leadership transition as Flannery, under pressure from activist shareholder Trian Fund Management, looks to reverse this year's biggest stock drop on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Under the new boss, GE has said it would sell its fleet of corporate jets and offload its industrial-products operation to ABB Ltd. Flannery is expected to outline his plans for the company's portfolio of businesses next month.

Immelt, 61, was expected to step down as chairman of Boston-based GE at the end of the year and had withdrawn from consideration for the top job at Uber Technologies Inc in late August.

According to Scott Simmons, managing director at Crist Kolder Asscociates, an executive search company, Inmelt is a potentially attractive candidate to work at a private-equity firm, given his knowledge of a wide variety of industrial businesses and countries where GE did business, Bloomberg reported.

GE also named Lorenzo Simonelli chairman of Baker Hughes GE, succeeding Immelt. Simonelli is CEO of that business, which GE acquired in July.

Inmelt handed over the GE CEO role to Flannery on 1 August after a 16-year stint at the 125-year-old company. He was instrumental in transforming GE's portfolio, focusing it on major industrial products and strategy to develop a platform for industrial-related software and services.