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How Long Is Too Long

Today GE announced that CEO Jeff Immelt is stepping down sooner than his expected departure in December, likely due to investor pressure, even with only three months to go. Jeff has been at the helm for 16 years versus the median for US CEOs who typically turn in their keys in about five years. Obviously there are those who hang on forever, but they are increasingly a minority as shareholders expect tenures to be managed and avoid evergreen administrations.

Immelt is a good example of a CEO who has officiated over a company that has struggled for years, and finally succumbed to pressure from activist Trian Fund Management. Once again, another example of a board that does not manage succession when a company clearly needs fresh leadership and determines how long is too long.

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