Friday, July 2, 2010

General Electric says CEO comments reported out of context but There Were Earlier Signs (GE)

So it was a big deal. When I posted "General Electric: "Immelt hits out at China and Obama" (GE)" my comment was:
Very odd, publicly rebuking your overlords.
GE is the poster child for "State Capitalism". 
Here are two takes from the Dow Jones empire. First up, MarketWatch:
GE says CEO comments reported out of context

General Electric Co. said Thursday that reported comments by Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt were taken out of context after the Financial Times quoted him knocking President Barack Obama and criticizing China during a private discussion.

"The comments attributed to GE CEO Jeff Immelt by the FT were taken out of context and, in some instances, inaccurately reported," Gary Sheffer, a spokesman at GE  (GE 14.25, +0.13, +0.92%) , said in a statement that was emailed to MarketWatch.

"Mr. Immelt's comments at a private dinner focused on the relationship between business and government in general and did not single out President Obama," Sheffer said. "Mr. Immelt also discussed the attractiveness and importance of China as a market for GE during a discussion on the complexities of doing business globally."

According to the Financial Times report, during a speech to Italian executives in Rome, Immelt had harsh words for Obama. He reportedly lamented what he called a "terrible" national mood and expressed concern that over-regulation in response to the global financial crisis would dampen a "tepid" U.S. economic recovery.
Business executives dislike the president, and the president doesn't like business, Immelt added, according to the Financial Times....MORE
And fromChina RealTime Report:

An Earlier Inkling of Immelt’s China Woe
General Electric distanced itself from comments critical of the business environment in China made this week by its chairman and chief executive Jeffrey Immelt.

But it turns out that this isn’t exactly the first time. Almost a month ago, Immelt expressed similar frustration during a speech in Shanghai, where he suggested American companies face a tough time getting a favorable outcome in negotiations in China.

“I look at my American colleagues, the hardest thing to do in China is get a win-win relationship,” Immelt said on June 2. “You know. The negotiating, the ability to find a space where both people make money, that is something that we always have to continue to, not just think about, but insist on in terms of the dealings we have.”

While it’s not exactly news that negotiating is difficult in China, the Shanghai comments take on added significance considering the pointed remarks Immelt made in Rome this week about tough business conditions in China. In a video of the Shanghai event held on the grounds of an ongoing World Expo, where GE is a U.S. sponsor, Immelt doesn’t appear angry. Instead, for the head of one of the world’s most international businesses, he comes across as flustered by the challenges in China. (See the video on the website of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai) “As a matter of fact, every time I’m here I’m quite humbled by how fast China moves, how much it’s grown, how fast it changes, and so whenever I leave here I just have a headache because I’m confused, I don’t know exactly what to do,” Immelt said in the 20-minute speech. “It’s like riding a wild horse or something like that.”

GE’s motto is “Imagination at Work” and Immelt said GE is determined to sink deeper roots in China. Yet, one of his key roles is to bat back ideas from China team that he thinks are preordained to fail in the unique market. “There’s a few places where we just can’t participate,” he said. “We can’t be competitive. The market is stacked against us to a certain extent. But the local team wants to do it anyhow,” he said. “So my job is to say no, that’s not what we’re going to do here because we can’t be competitive.”>>>MORE
When is the board going to do it's job and fire this guy?