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GEC directors face shake-up

George Simpson, the new head of General Electric Company, yesterday announced a wholesale shake-up of the board in his latest move to stamp his identity on the empire he inherited from Lord Weinstock last autumn.

The changes follow the announcement earlier this month that Malcolm Bates, deputy managing director and a close ally of Lord Weinstock, was to retire from the post he had held since 1985. Mr Simpson has reorganised GEC's board structure, creating two positions responsible for marketing and technical issues.

The new jobs go to insiders. Sir Geoffrey Pattie, chairman of Marconi, will assume the marketing post and David Grant, who heads GEC's research activities, will take the role of technical director.

Instead of replacing Mr Bates with another deputy MD, Mr Simpson has asked David Newlands, finance director, to deputise for him. Other directors stay on, including Sara Morrison, director of community relations, though further announcements on directorships will be announced at the annual general meeting later this year.

One of Mr Simpson's first steps after joining GEC was to recruit two former colleagues to join the board. Rob Meakin, head of personnel with British Aerospace, moved to the same job at GEC, while Jack Fryer left Lucas, Mr Simpson's previous employer, to become strategy director.

However it is the decision to create two additional business divisions which is likely to herald a further and more fundamental restructuring of GEC's activities. The two groups will separately manage operations in the US and GEC's collection of industrial businesses such as consumer appliances makers Hotpoint and Creda.

The new groups split off these activities from the divisional structure responsible for power systems, defence and telecommunications. They are the Anglo-French engineering giant GEC-Alsthom, the GEC-Marconi defence arm and GPT, the telecoms operation jointly run with Siemens of Germany.