GM Taps Former Microsoft M&A Chief - InformationWeek

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12/22/2009
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GM Taps Former Microsoft M&A Chief

Chris Liddell's hi-tech experience could bolster automaker's emphasis on smart vehicles.

Former Microsoft chief financial officer Chris Liddell, who left the software maker last month, has been named to a similar position at automotive giant General Motors.

Liddell will assume the role of CFO at GM beginning in the new year, the automaker said Monday.

"Chris brings depth and experience to this job that were unmatched in our search for a new financial leader," said GM chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, in a statement.

"Chris will lead our financial and accounting operations on a global basis and will report directly to me. We're also looking to his experience and insights in corporate strategy as a member of the senior leadership team in helping our restructuring efforts," said Whitacre.

GM is in the midst of a management shakeup. Whitacre, 68, assumed the role of interim CEO earlier this month after incumbent Fritz Henderson was ousted. Earlier this year, long-time CIO Ralph Szygenda stepped down and was replaced by Terry Kline.

Liddell, 51, has no experience in the automotive sector, but his years at Microsoft may prove useful to GM as vehicles become increasingly hi-tech and software dependent.

Liddell's departure was seen as a blow to Redmond, which has lost several key executives in recent years. Upon being named CFO in 2005, Liddell embarked on an aggressive mergers and acquisitions strategy that helped Microsoft diversify and become less dependent on its two key franchises—Windows and Office.

Microsoft made more than 50 acquisitions under Liddell's watch, including high-profile buyouts of enterprise search provider Fast Search & Transfer, digital advertising agency aQuantive, semantic search developer Powerset, and mobile developer Tellme Networks.

Liddell joined a growing list of executives to depart Redmond in that past two years. The list includes former data center chief Debra Chrapaty, former Windows head Kevin Johnson, former Windows technical lead Rob Short, and former chief media officer Joanne Bradford.

Liddell was replaced as Microsoft's CFO by corporate VP Peter Klein.

What's next for General Motors? InformationWeek editors met with GM's IT leadership team to find out. Download our report here (registration required).

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