Jeff Immelt’s DC love affair costs GE shareholders dearly

Well now we have a clearer pitcher of what former GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt was doing toward the end of his executive run.

He was blowing up a great company and screwing over the US economy at the same time. Quite an achievement for a former X-ray machine salesman.

Since Immelt has retired in August of this year, GE shares have plummeted 30% and the company has announced a broad restructuring in the hopes of stemming the carnage.

It seems Immelt was too busy cozying up with the Obama Administration — serving on a number of Presidential Economic Councils — to make sure GE kept the lights on at its many business divisions.

The successor to Jack Welsh, who built GE into the roaring conglomerate with shares trading at $60 after 4 stock splits in 10 years, could not keep the momentum going, which Walsh infused into the company. Instead he dismantled the company and moved its HQ to Boston to get a more liberal environment than Fairfield, CT.

Immelt went to Washington in 2011 to head the administration’s jobs creation panel. We all know how well that went. Sure unemployment went down, only because the out-of-work were no longer being counted since they were unemployed for over a year.

Immelt’s socialistic bent in Washington hurt GE shareholders as he backed cap-and-trade policies on carbon emissions and ObamaCare. While in Washington Immelt would serve on three executive branch panels advising President Obama on economic matters, matters at GE were going unattended.

Immelt’s achievements are measured by division sales not organic growth at GE. He dismantled Walsh’s conglomerate to support a falling stock price.

  • In 2007 GE sold its plastics business for $11.6 billion to a Saudi Arabian investment group.
  • In 2009 Immelt agreed to sell a controlling interest in NBC Universal for about $30 billion.In 2014 GE sold its remaining 49% stake in property for $16.7 billion.
  • Also in 2014 GE sold its appliance business for $3.3 billion
  • In 2015 the company sold its property business to Wells Fargo and Blackstone for$26.5 billion.
  • Also in 2015 the company announced it will sell off its huge financial services unit. While a total sale number is difficult to determine due to the number of businesses sold under in the division, it appears to be about $500 billion.
So now new GE chief John Flannery is in the midst of a dog-and-pony show to try to bolster a $18 share price with investors. I wish him luck and hopefully time will catch up with Immelt and his role in dismantling the company, which no longer brings good things to light since it stopped making light bulbs.
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