General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt is stepping down

Mr Flannery, 55, had an "excellent" reputation inside GE despite not being known well by shareholders, Mr Davis said.

"I want to start with a fresh look around the compnay overall and with a sense of urgency, " Flannery told a company meeting Monday morning.

Jeff Immelt took charge of the massive industrial company shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and steered the business through the upheavals of the global recession.

Immelt said on Monday that he believed Flannery was the right person to step into the position. "This process is not one you can make up in a day or a week". He added that the health-care sector in particular offered "so much long-term growth", saying that GE was "just scratching the surface of what we can do in that business".

He will assume chairman duties following Mr Immelt's retirement on December 31. "Immelt led the successful transformation of GE into a simpler, stronger and more focused digital industrial portfolio aligned to key markets - power, aviation, transportation, healthcare and oil and gas", the company said. "The board is confident that in the years to come, GE investors and employees will benefit from Jeff's hard work". His new salary will be US$2 million a year, GE said. The shares dropped 12 percent this year through Friday, compared with an 8.6 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. He joined GE in 1987. "He will bring a great internal operational focus to the table going forward". He says Immelt will best be remembered for weathering tumultuous times.

To be sure, Immelt - a large, physical presence as Welch is nearly impish - was a different CEO for a different time. He has held other posts across the wider conglomerate, running its corporate restructuring and workout group, leading its GE Equity business and working with GE Capital in Latin America and Asia.

Trian took a big stake in GE almost two years ago.

The relationship with Trian began to sour in recent months as investors questioned GE's performance.

Over the past year, Immelt's renumeration had plunged as a result of missing targets. Trian declined comment on the CEO change on Monday.

Mr. Flannery said, "Today's announcement is the greatest honor of my career". Trian might have been a factor, Ms Dray said. But other shareholders may be less likely to go along with such an effort as they give Mr. Flannery time to boost the stock and improve performance, making an already tough-to-win vote significantly more hard.

Now, with the planned departure of GE's longtime chief executive officer, Jeff Immelt, the chance of a public clash soon is greatly diminished.

When John Flannery was chosen to head GE Healthcare in 2014, his background as chief dealmaker for the industrial conglomerate led to speculation GE might consider spinning off its somewhat sickly health business. Bornstein was promoted to vice chairman.

  • Zachary Reyes