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Former GE head Jack Welch dies

Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric Jack Welch, shown attending a business leaders forum at the White House in 2017, has died, GE said Monday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA
Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric Jack Welch, shown attending a business leaders forum at the White House in 2017, has died, GE said Monday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA

March 2 (UPI) -- Former General Electric chairman Jack Welch, credited with building the company into a diversified financial and industrial juggernaut, died at 83, the company confirmed Monday.

Once voted by Fortune magazine as the "toughest boss in America," Welch helped catapult GE stock valuation to record levels while serving as chairman and chief executive officer from 1981 to 2001.

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During GE's growth under Welch's tenure, the company purchased RCA, which then owned NBC, and investment bank Kidder Peabody. He also was known for ruthlessly slashing poorly performing companies and employees, which earned him the nickname "Neutron Jack" and drew the ire of critics.

"Today is a sad day for the entire GE family," GE Chairman and CEO Larry Culp said in a statement. "Jack was larger than life and the heart of GE for half a century. He reshaped the face of our company and the business world."

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GE posted $27 billion in revenue when Welch became chief executive, and he left in 2001 with the company earning $130 billion. Its total market capitalization darted from $14 billion to $410 billion.

President Donald Trump honored Welch on social media Monday.

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"There was no corporate leader like 'neutron' Jack," Trump said. "He was my friend and supporter. We made wonderful deals together. He will never be forgotten. My warmest sympathies to his wonderful wife and family."

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Best-selling business author David McCourt called Welch "one of the greatest CEOs ever."

"I was fortunate he took the time to meet with me, personally overruling his office's standard reply," McCourt said on Twitter. "One day in his company, I learnt a lifetime of advice. A legend in business and gentleman in life."

GE has faced lean times since then with the company selling many of the key pieces Welch brought together. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped GE from its 30-company stock index in 2018.

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Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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