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GE shakes up leadership in ailing power business
GENERAL Electric Co shook up its ailing power business again on Monday, naming a CEO for its new gas-power division and bringing a veteran GE executive back from retirement to help.
The changes mark another step in new GE CEO Larry Culp's urgent effort to reduce heavy debt and restore profits at the 126-year-old, Boston-based conglomerate.
It also highlights the problems at GE Power. Mr Culp reorganised the division three weeks ago, separating its gas-turbine business from units that make coal- and nuclear-fuelled power plants, power grids and other equipment.
"One of my top priorities is positioning our businesses to win, starting with GE Power," Mr Culp said in a statement.
GE stock was down 1.1 per cent at US$7.94 in afternoon trading. The stock has fallen 56 per cent this year.
GE picked John Rice, a 39-year GE veteran who once headed its energy unit and retired last year, as chairman of gas power, reporting to Mr Culp.
Mr Rice's "knowledge of GE's gas customers and management experience" will help him provide "mentorship" to the new gas power leaders and "position this business and the team for success", GE said.
The company also named Scott Strazik, CEO of GE Power's repair and maintenance business, to be CEO of Gas Power, overseeing both equipment sales and services.
GE Power's current CEO Russell Stokes will become CEO of other power activities.
Mr Strazik and Mr Stokes will also report to Mr Culp, GE said.
Analysts said Mr Rice's experience would help, but were cautious about prospects for a quick improvement in power's performance.
"GE is desperate for leadership," said Scott Davis, analyst at Melius Research, adding it was smart to bring Mr Rice back.
He is "a smart, prudent guy who is known for not taking any unwanted risk", said Nick Heymann, analyst at William Blair, referring to Mr Rice.
"Rice knows the business, but there is no quick fix," said Jeff Sprague, an analyst at Vertical Research Partners.
Mr Stokes "was handed a mess that's probably too big for one guy to fix", Mr Sprague said of the new structure.
But he added: "I don't think this really changes anything."
GE Power's profits have plunged as demand for gas turbines has fallen, leaving GE, Siemens and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems with overcapacity and fewer sales.
GE Power lost US$631 million and wrote off US$22 billion in the third quarter, reflecting the bleak profit outlook. REUTERS