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GE’s new CEO John Flannery signals focus on cash, cost cuts after stock plunge

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-08-2017 Richard Clough

New York: General Electric Co.’s new boss says he’s already gotten an earful from shareholders.

In an email to employees on his first day on the job, Chief Executive Officer John Flannery said he’s met with 100 investors in the past month who are clamoring for better execution on financial targets including cost cuts. GE has fallen the most this year on the Dow Jones Industrial Average amid choppy earnings and investor concerns over cash flow.

“We need an intense focus on running the company well,” Flannery, 55, said in the message Tuesday. Shareholders “also expect more accountability internally and externally and asked that we find a way to simplify our metrics. I heard them loud and clear.”

The comments offer a fresh glimpse into the new CEO’s priorities as he takes over from Jeffrey Immelt at the helm of the manufacturing giant. Flannery, a 30-year company veteran who most recently ran the health-care division, is conducting a review of GE’s businesses ahead of a detailed briefing in November.

Under Immelt, who stepped down as CEO on Monday and will stay on as chairman until the end of the year, GE increased its focus on building heavy-duty equipment such as jet engines and gas turbines. It also invested in improved digital capabilities while exiting most consumer and lending businesses.

The Boston-based manufacturer agreed earlier this year to deeper cost cuts through 2018 following discussions with shareholder Trian Fund Management, the firm co-founded by Nelson Peltz. GE slumped 19 percent this year through Monday, while the Dow advanced 11 percent.

In addition to improving execution, Flannery said he wants to be sure GE is listening to customers’ needs and assembling a strong team built on “transparency and candor.” Bloomberg

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