Major shake-up at Major Advertiser = Opportunity

Steve’s breakdown: It’s hitting the fan at GE and we’re pretty sure a few ad agency relationships will be changing hands. This one is going to take some research but it’s obviously worth the work.

FAIRFIELD, CT: General Electric (GE) is going through a big management shakeup with several top executives on their way out, a new chief financial officer on her way in, and an activist shareholder investor from the investment fund Trian joining the company’s board of directors.

New CFO Jamie Miller, the former CEO of the GE Transportation division, has been at the Boston-headquartered industrial giant since 2008 and will begin her new role in November. She replaces company CFO Jeffrey Bornstein, who has been at GE for 28 years.

“Jamie’s deep experience in finance, digital technology and business operations make her the right person for this role as GE continues to transform into a digital industrial company,” CEO John Flannery said in a statement.

Flannery, a longtime GE executive, took over as the CEO in August. Cost-cutting and efforts to improve the company’s stock are seen as top priorities. GE’s stock performance was lackluster under the leadership of former CEO Jeffrey Immelt as he attempted a transformation that included the sales of its insurance, credit card, plastics and security divisions — while investing heavily in technology. In Immelt’s 16 years at the helm, GE’s share price advanced 24 percent, adjusted for splits, while the broader stock market, as represented by the S&P 500 index, shot up 125 percent.

Trian took a $2.5 billion investment in GE in 2015 and has been active in its push to reduce structural costs at the company, including changes in executive compensation programs. In a statement earlier this year, Trian said it had “intensified its dialogue with senior management regarding new initiatives to help ensure that GE can meet its financial commitments.”

“Like other GE shareholders, I am disappointed by the recent performance of GE’s stock,” Trian founding partner Ed Garden said in a statement regarding his board appointment on Monday. “But I continue to believe that GE represents an attractive long-term investment opportunity with significant upside. We will remain focused on enhancing long-term value for GE shareholders.”

Other notable departures announced over the weekend include vice chairs Beth Comstock and John Rice, who will leave GE by the end of the year.

GE’s stock was down nearly 3 percent in early trading on Monday.


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