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Businessweek Archives

Jack Welch: One Big Pair Of Vacant Shoes

In Business This Week: Headliner

Jack Welch: One Big Pair of Vacant Shoes

Even giants have to retire. Jack Welch, one of the world's most high-profile execs, has finally set a date for stepping down as chairman and CEO of General Electric. Welch, who turns 64 in November, announced on Nov. 2 that he'll retire after the annual meeting in April, 2001. While that's a little later than many insiders expected, the official word of his departure already has people discussing his legacy. Pal Larry Bossidy, a GE veteran who's now chief executive of AlliedSignal, calls him the "management oracle of the past 50 years." That's not just hype. Welch has transformed GE from a $14 billion manufacturing power into a $99 billion conglomerate in everything from refrigerators to reinsurance since taking over in 1981. Contenders to fill his big shoes include Jeffrey Immelt, who heads GE Medical Systems, and James McNerney of GE Aircraft.

What will Welch do next? Work on his golf is a safe bet. But most Welch watchers figure he won't disappear from the business stage altogether.By Diane Brady in Greenwich, Conn.; Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

More Bumps for Boeing

Boeing keeps flying into trouble. The company has confirmed that the EgyptAir 767 that crashed Oct. 31 rolled off the assembly line immediately before an ill-fated Lauda Air 767, which crashed in Thailand in 1991 when a reverse thruster malfunctioned. Boeing acknowledged that both planes were among the last built before machinists struck the company for 48 days in 1989. On Nov. 1, Boeing suspended delivery of four types of planes after insulation in the cockpits failed Federal Aviation Administration fire tests. The insulation is installed in some 1,000 planes. This follows the Oct. 29 report by Iowa GOP Senator Charles Grassley that Boeing didn't share until early this year a 1980 report on fuel-tank overheating problems in a military version of the 747--a suspected cause of the TWA Flight 800 crash.Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

Ford and GM Will Vie in Cyberspace

The no. 1 and no. 2 U.S. auto makers have found a new venue for their competition: cyberspace. On Nov. 2, both General Motors and Ford announced major leaps into the virtual world. GM inked a deal with Commerce One to create GM MarketSite, which it says will be "the world's largest `virtual marketplace' for a wide array of products, raw materials, parts, and services." The new site, GM says, will automate dealings with 30,000 suppliers and cut costs for them and the auto giant as well. Just ahead of GM, Ford unveiled its new supplier portal, being built with Oracle. AutoXchange, Ford says, will be "the world's largest business-to-business network." Ford wants to funnel customer orders directly from the Net to its factories and suppliers to slash the costs of its $80 billion supply chain. Like GM's, it's set to launch early next year.Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

Do They Consult or Do They Count?

New boss, old fight. Andersen Consulting's acrimonious divorce from its accounting and auditing parent will proceed. Joe Forehand, who was named to replace George Shaheen as CEO of the $8.3 billion company on Nov. 1, says he has no intention of giving up the fight for independence that his predecessor started. Forehand, 51, expects an arbitration ruling on the bitter breakup in the spring. Shaheen, who initiated the split from Arthur Andersen, the accountants, departed in September for startup Webvan.Edited by Mark FrankelReturn to top

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