GE drops below $8 after CEO Culp says he feels the ‘urgency’ and will sell assets to raise cash

General Electric‘s Chairman and CEO Larry Culp said Monday that he feels the “urgency” to reduce the company’s leverage and will do so through asset sales.

“We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down,” Culp said in an interview on “Squawk on the Street” with CNBC’s David Faber.

GE shares fell 7 percent in trading Monday, slipping below $8 a share for the first time since March 2009. The stock fell as low as $7.72.

“We need to bring the leverage down,” Culp added, saying he thinks GE has “got plenty of opportunities through assets sales to do that.” Culp emphasized that he will not rush the process of deleveraging even as he feels the pressure to move quickly and decisively. “The stock has been under pressure” over the last two weeks, Culp said, “no doubt about that.”

Culp said he thinks the decision to remove the company’s full-year profit forecast from its most recent earnings report was “another unpopular decision but one that was straightforward.”

“We did not have the conviction that we would want, particularly around our power business, as we looked toward the end of the year,” Culp said.

As the company has noted previously, Culp said GE “has no plans for an equity raise.” Culp was appointed chairman and CEO on Oct. 1, a month before GE reported third-quarter profits which were sharply below Wall Street forecasts. Additionally, GE slashed its quarterly dividend to a penny a share in a dramatic first move for Culp.

GE shares have fallen more than 50 percent this year.