Next GE CEO could be non-U.S. citizen -Immelt

NEW YORK Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:02am EDT

NEW YORK Oct 17 (Reuters) - The next chief executive of General Electric Co , the largest U.S. conglomerate, could be a non-U.S. national, CEO Jeffrey Immelt said on Monday.

Immelt, speaking at a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event in New York on Monday, said the next leader needed to have a global view and an ability to pick great products, but the company's list of potential successors included several non-U.S. nationals.

"If I look at a deep list of GE CEO candidates that could take my job in the next five to ten years, there is a list of people that are non-U.S. citizens that could run this company some day," Immelt said. "And there's a great list of Americans. We've got a very good, global leadership team."

Immelt, who took over the helm of GE from Jack Welch in 2001, said his chief accomplishments were making the company more global and developing the company's technology, boosting spending on research and development to 6 percent of sales.

"Good managers can't make up for bad products," Immelt said. "A nose for technology, a nose for markets, understanding the cross-currents that digital connections create -- that's what the next CEO has to be about."

Currently, all four of GE's vice chairmen -- the highest rank beneath the CEO's office -- are U.S. citizens. GE's global operations chief, John Rice, recently relocated to Hong Kong to be closer to the key China market.

GE shares were down 1.1 percent at $16.42 on Monday morning.

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