Former GE CEO Jack Welch dies

Jack Welch waits for a meeting with US President Donald Trump and CEOs in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus April 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Former General Electric (GE) CEO John “Jack” Welch died at age 84, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

Welch, who was GE’s chairman and chief executive from 1981 to 2001, is credited with making GE a multinational company and the most valuable companies in the world during the late-1990s, The Associated Press reported.  

Welch’s wife, Suzy Welch, told The New York Times the cause of death was renal failure. 

The former CEO was born in Massachusetts in 1935 and studied chemical engineering before developing GE into the industrial and financial services powerhouse it became, according to the AP. The executive increased the company’s profits fivefold and its market capitalization 30-fold. 

As the company’s youngest CEO in 1981, Welch, then 45, oversaw tens of thousands of employees being laid off in his first five years in efforts to cut costs, earning him the nickname “Neutron Jack.” In 1999, Fortune magazine named the executive the “Manager of the Century,” according to the news outlet.

Welch wrote several books including “Jack: Straight From the Gut” which was released on Sept. 11, 2001.

“From the day I joined GE to the day I was named CEO, 20 years later, my bosses cautioned me about my candor,” Welch wrote in the book. “I was labeled abrasive and consistently warned my candor would soon get in the way of my career … and I’m telling you that it was candor that helped make it work.”

Current GE Chairman and CEO Larry Culp recognized the “sad day” in a statement, saying when he last saw Welch, the former executive was asking him how he was running the company.  

“He will be deeply missed by me and the entire GE team,” he said. “And we’ll continue to honor his legacy by doing exactly what Jack would want us to do: win.”

President Trump also addressed Welch’s death in a tweet, calling him his friend.

“There was no corporate leader like ‘neutron’ Jack,” he said. “He was my friend and supporter. We made wonderful deals together. He will never be forgotten. My warmest sympathies to his wonderful wife & family!”

Tags CEO Donald Trump GE General Electric

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