General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

executive David Calhoun is leaving the megaconglomerate to take over at Dutch market research firm

VNU

, the owner of television ratings collector Nielsen.

Calhoun was named Wednesday as the chief executive and chairman of the executive board at VNU, a $4 billion global media and information company. Calhoun had been running GE's infrastructure business, which covers aviation, rail, energy, oil and gas and water operations.

"

GE is a great company of strong businesses and terrific, talented people. I have had the opportunity to be trained by the best of the best -- Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt. VNU presents a unique opportunity to take on a new and different challenge," Calhoun said in a statement. "It was a tough call, but the decision was made easier by the fact that GE has great leaders like John Rice and Lloyd Trotter to call on. This company won't miss a beat."

GE's CEO Immelt said in a statement that "through his energy and strong leadership skills, Dave has made tremendous contributions to GE. We wish him the best."

On the same morning that VNU said Calhoun will join its team, GE said Rice will succeed Calhoun as president and chief executive of the company's infrastructure unit. Trotter will take over Rice's old spot running the company's industrial business. Trotter was also appointed vice chairman.

GE said the new appointments are effective immediately.

Shares of GE were down 36 cents, or 1.1%, to $33.60.