UPDATE 1-GE taps retired exec, names leaders for ailing power unit

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Nov 19 (Reuters) - General Electric Co named new leaders for its ailing power business on Monday, appointing Scott Strazik as CEO for gas power and bringing longtime GE executive John Rice back from retirement in an advisory role.

The changes come as new GE Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp tries to quickly reduce heavy debt and restore profits at the 126-year-old, Boston-based conglomerate, and highlights the problems with GE's power division.

"One of my top priorities is positioning our businesses to win, starting with GE Power," Culp said in a statement.

GE stock was down slightly at $8.01 in morning trading.

GE Power's current Chief Executive Officer, Russell Stokes, will become CEO of other power activities, including nuclear and coal power, steam, transmission grids and power conversion.

Strazik had been CEO of the power services business, which oversees repair and maintenance of power equipment.

Rice, a 39-year GE veteran who once headed its energy unit and retired in December, will advise Strazik, GE said.

All three leaders will report to Culp, GE said.

GE said last month that it would separate the gas power unit from the rest of its power activities so the unit could receive extra management focus.

GE Power's profits have plunged as demand for gas turbines has fallen far short of forecasts, leaving GE and rivals Siemens and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems with too much capacity and fewer sales.

GE Power reported a $631 million loss and wrote off $22 billion of goodwill in the third quarter, reflecting the bleak outlook for future earnings.

(Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)