General Electric chief ‘paranoid’ over economic downturn

October 19th, 2008 - 9:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) US giant General Electric’s chief executive Jeffrey Immelt says he is “paranoid” about the economic downturn, and plans to lower the company’s exposure in the financial sector.“What we’ve learnt is that making us feel like that (that the worst is yet to come) is dangerous. I am paranoid and we are ready for whatever eventuality that might take place,” the head of the 130-year-old organization, which has interests in financial services, electronics and television networks, said in an interview to news channel NDTV at GE’s headquarters in Connecticut.

Immelt pointed out 40 percent of GE’s business was in its financial arm, and that the company wanted to reduce this level.

“I don’t think its going to be zero (but) it’s going to be a lower percentage. That was already the strategy we were embarking on even before the crisis hit and we will continue to move on that strategy,” he maintained.

GE Aviation Financial Services, GE Commercial Finance, GE Energy Financial Services, and GE Money are part of GE’s financial service arm.

Terming the economic crisis as the most voalatile time in recent history, he said companies have to be ready to change in moments to survive.

But Immelt, who took over the company’s leadership from the legendary Jack Welch seven years ago, was bullish on industrial growth, which according to him, still has “pockets of growth”.

“The financial services industry has really been in a tough phase and our financial service business has reflected that. The industrial economy is still okay. If you’re an exporter like we are, there are still pockets of growth,” he said.

But he maintained that caution is the need of the hour as the full impact of the downturn on the global economy is yet to be ascertained.

“The concern that everybody has is what comes after this financial crisis with the US economy going into recession. What’s going to happen with the global economy, and so we are all very cautious about that in terms of what happens next.”

He asserted that his company, with gross revenues of $20 billion this fiscal, was in a stable position but maintained that in a recessive economy, odds can “can stack up against anybody”.

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