Report: GE chief slams China, Obama

The Financial Times says Immelt worries about Chinese protectionism and Obama's anti-business mentality. GE says he was misquoted. You decide.

By Charley Blaine Jul 2, 2010 2:18PM
General Electric (GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt launched a rare broadside against the Chinese government, which he accused of being increasingly hostile to foreign multinationals.

He warned, the Financial Times said, that the world’s largest manufacturing company was exploring better prospects elsewhere in resource-rich countries, which did not want to be "colonized" by Chinese investors.
"I really worry about China," Immelt told an audience of top Italian executives in Rome, accusing the Chinese government of becoming increasingly protectionist. "I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful."

Immelt also had harsh words for President Obama, the newspaper said. Immelt lamented what he called a "terrible" national mood and expressed concern that overregulation in response to the global financial crisis would dampen a "tepid" U.S. economic recovery.

Business does not like the U.S. president, and the president does not like business, he said, making a point of praising Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, for her defense of German industry.

"People are in a really bad mood" in the U.S., Immelt said. "We are a pathetic exporter. . . . We have to become an industrial powerhouse again, but you don't do this when government and entrepreneurs are not in sync."General Electric

News reports of the speech were circulated widely and forced GE to put out a statement arguing that Immelt's statement had been taken out of context. Moreover, the company argued, the story was inaccurate.

Immelt's comments, the statement said, made at a private dinner, "focused on the relationship between business and government in general and did not single out President Obama." The statement also said Immelt discussed the attractiveness and importance of China as a market for GE.

GE was down 2.1% to $13.83 this afternoon. The Dow component's shares fell 11.8% in June and are off 6.7% this year.
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