GE brings in shipper Maersk's CFO as finance chief

(Reuters) - General Electric Co GE.N on Monday named finance head at shipper AP Moller-Maersk MAERSKb.CO as its new chief financial officer in the latest top-level change aimed at turning around the U.S. industrial conglomerate.

Carolina Dybeck Happe will start in early 2020 and replaces Jamie Miller, whose departure was announced earlier this year as new Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp seeks to simplify operations and generate cash after booking billions of dollars in losses.

The company has been struggling with the fallout of a series of poor long-term financial bets, driving its share price as low as $6.4 last December from highs above $50 in 2000.

GE's aviation business has also come under pressure from the worldwide grounding of Boeing's BA.N 737 MAX, for which it makes engines.

The company is betting on Happe’s experience at Maersk, where her focus was on lowering costs, as it looks to stabilise its power business, which has long been a drag on earnings.

“The extent of the changes which are underway at the managerial and board level over the past 12-18 months bode well for a possible turnaround in the company’s culture, and eventually, in the operations,” Barclays analysts said in a note.

The analysts added that while Happe does not have much experience of highly levered turnarounds, her focus while working with Culp will likely be on improving margins and cash flow.

Other top executive appointments Culp has made since taking over as CEO in October 2018 include new heads for its gas power business and global supply chain.

However, Happe’s departure comes at a bad time for Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipping company, as it struggles with low freight rates and a slowdown in container shipping.

Maersk is still trying to find a firm footing more than three years after announcing a new strategy that would see it sell-off its oil and gas business and focus entirely on container and logistics services.

Shares of GE were marginally up in early trading, while those of Maersk were slightly down.

Reporting by Dominic Roshan K.L. and Uday Sampath Kumar in Bengaluru, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Maju Samuel