General Electric announced that Director and Chairman Jeffrey Immelt had stepped down nearly three months earlier than expected. The engineering giant's board named current CEO John Flannery as hairman and president, effective immediately, the company said in a statement. Flannery had taken over Immelt's role as CEO at the start of August but Immelt had been expected to stay on as president and chairman until the end of the year. The statement, however, said Immelt believed the CEO transition had gone smoothly and that Flannery was now ready to succeed Immelt. The company has portrayed the leadership change as part of an orderly succession but GE had been hard hit by falling oil prices. Flannery, the new chairman, had most recently been head of GE's healthcare division prior to succeeding Immelt this year. Immelt also stepped down as chairman of the oil services company Baker Hughes, a GE unit, and was replaced by President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli.
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