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GE's Immelt may exit before expected tenure ends: WSJ

General Electric's Chief Executive Jeff Immelt may step down sooner than his expected 20-year tenure, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the company's thinking.

"We don't comment on speculation. The GE board routinely discusses succession planning, which is a key part of its responsibilities," a company spokesperson told CNBC.

Immelt, who has been at the helm of the industrial conglomerate since 2001, has led several board discussions about shortening the expected tenure for GE's next chief executive to between 10 and 15 years, the Journal said.

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Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric.
Soeren Stache | AFP | Getty Images
Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric.

Among the leading candidates identified to succeed Immelt are Lorenzo Simonelli, who took over the leadership of GE's oil and gas unit last year; and Steve Bolze, who leads power and water, GE's biggest unit, the newspaper said.

GE spokesman Gary Sheffer said the company does not comment on speculations. "The GE board routinely discusses succession planning, which is a key part of its responsibilities,'' he said in an email response to Reuters.

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The company said last month Immelt holds 1.96 million of GE shares. The CEO is the largest insider stakeholder, according to Thomson Reuters data, though his stake trails far behind those of the large institutional holders of GE stock.

By Reuters. CNBC contributed to this report.