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The 2015 Pension 40: Jeffrey Immelt

No. 14 Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and Chief Executive / General Electric Co.

Jeffrey Immelt
Chairman and Chief Executive / General Electric Co.
Last year: Not ranked

For the past five years, General Electric Co.’s Jeffrey Immelt, 59, has been perhaps the highest-profile CEO to tackle what he described in 2010 as a “drag” on his company’s earnings: corporate pensions. In 2011, GE shuttered its defined benefit plan to new employees and changed how it reported pension outlays. But the problem persists. With $48 billion in assets, GE has the fourth-largest corporate defined benefit plans in the U.S. and is running a $15.8 billion deficit. This year, after union negotiations and cuts to health care payments for beneficiaries over 65, Immelt spoke about the “headwinds” of large annual benefit costs at GE’s annual meeting: “We always want our pension plan to be strong and supported, and it’s that way today. And it will always be that way.” Critics point out that Immelt and other executives are eligible for a so-called supplementary pension plan if they remain with GE until age 60. Even as the company was cutting health care outlays, Immelt’s pay doubled in 2014, to $37.3 million, largely thanks to an $18.4 million rise in the value of his pension payout and deferred pay, which the company attributed to changing interest rates and an actuarial adjustment. As of 2014, after 32 years at GE, Immelt had accumulated $1.8 million in the defined benefit plan; $70.3 million in the supplementary plan, which is unfunded; and $1.78 million in a third retirement fund. In September, GE announced it was selling its $115 billion asset management business, which oversees pension investments and other assets — part of a larger retreat from financial services. The proceeds, which could be as much as $500 million, will go toward the defined benefit obligation.

The 2015 Pension 40
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1. Bruce Rauner
2. John & Laura Arnold
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3. Chris Christie
New Jersey
4. Randi Weingarten
AmericanFederation of Teachers
5. Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Department of Labor
6. Kevin de León
7. Alejandro García Padilla
Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico
8. Laurence Fink
9. Rahm Emanuel
10. Sean McGarvey
North AmericanBuilding Trades Unions
11. John Kline
12. J. Mark Iwry
U.S. TreasuryDepartment
13. Damon Silvers
14. Jeffrey Immelt
General Electric Co.
15. Joshua Gotbaum
Brookings Institution
16. Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
17. Mark Mullet
18. Terry O'Sullivan
Laborers' International Union of North America
19. Raymond Dalio
Bridgewater Associates
20. Ted Wheeler
21. Thomas Nyhan
Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
22. Karen Ferguson & Karen Friedman
Pensions Rights Center
23. Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee forMultiemployer Plans
24. Robert O'Keef
Motorola Solutions
25. Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
26. Kenneth Feinberg
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg
27. Orrin Hatch
28. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
29. Ian Lanoff
Groom Law Group
30. Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
31. Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees' Retirement System
32. Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
33. Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
34. Denise Nappier
35. W. Thomas Reeder Jr.
Pension BenefitGuaranty Corp.
36. Hank Kim
National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
37. Paul Singer
Elliott Management Corp.
38. Bailey Childers
National PublicPension Coalition
39. Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
40. Judy Mares
U.S. Labor Department

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