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Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt named chairman of Athenahealth

Chloe Aiello

Former General Electric GE CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt was appointed chairman of the Athenahealth ATHN Board of Directors, the health-care technology company announced on Wednesday.

"We are thrilled to welcome Jeff as the new independent chairman of the athenahealth Board," Dev Ittycheria, chair of the Board's Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee said in a statement.

Immelt also plans to purchase $1 million of athenahealth common stock in the open market.

Immelt succeeded Jack Welch as GE CEO in 2001 and led the company through the Sept. 11 attacks, the financial crisis and oil price swings. Immelt also helped with the restructuring of GE Capital in shifting the company's focus away from finance towards manufacturing.

He acted as chairman and director of the board for 16 years, retiring three months earlier than expected in October 2017.

Under Immelt's tenure, GE sold or spun off major businesses, including appliances, insurance and plastics, transforming from a far-flung conglomerate to an industrial company focused on the faster-growing industrial and power sectors.

"Having considered a number of highly qualified candidates, the Board determined that Jeff's deep expertise and broad relationships in the healthcare industry, combined with his drive for industry transformation through innovation, ideally position him to be a great partner to the Board and management team as we work to profitably grow and scale the Company and drive value creation," Ittycheria added.

But Immelt has come under fire by critics for his leadership decisions, particularly concerning mergers and acquisitions and investment timing, that some argue contributed to GE's cash crunch.

He has also been criticized for excessive spending habits, including bringing an extra corporate jet on business trips — just in case of emergencies.

Shares of Athenahealth gained 3.7 percent after the announcement.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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