Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) CFO Chris Liddell is resigning at the end of the year; he will be replaced by Peter Klein, the CFO of Microsoft’s business division. Liddell had served as Microsoft’s CFO for the last four years and had overseen the company’s recent cost-cutting efforts, which included the first mass layoffs in Microsoft’s history. Unclear what exactly is driving Liddell’s decision to leave now, although his departure comes just as Microsoft’s financial performance seems to be improving. Microsoft beat expectations last quarter, after missing analyst revenue estimates by $1 billion during the prior quarter.
In a statement, Microsoft says Liddell is looking “at a number of opportunities that will expand his career beyond being a CFO” — which implies that he may be looking for a CEO job. One of Liddell’s predecessors as Microsoft CFO — Gregory Maffei — went on to succeed John Malone as CEO of Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA). A spokesman says Liddell’s departure is amicable.
Klein has been in charge of the business division’s finances for four years — and has been at Microsoft for seven. Among his previous posts was a stint at HomeGrocer.com which he helped lead to an IPO, according to a statement.
Here’s the memo Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent to company employees Tuesday afternoon:
From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 2:03 PM
To: Microsoft – All Employees (QBDG)
Subject: CFO Transition
Today we are announcing that Chris Liddell will be leaving Microsoft at the end of the year and that Peter Klein is our new CFO, effective immediately.
Chris joined our team in April of 2005 and over the past four and half years has provided excellent leadership. He has built a finance team that is deep and strong, and has a outstanding record of building value for our shareholders. Chris has indicated that he is interested in pursuing opportunities outside of Microsoft that will expand his career beyond being a CFO. We appreciate Chris’ contributions and wish him the best with his new endeavors. Chris will be working with the team to help transition through December 31st of this year.
Peter is an eight-year Microsoft veteran who brings great finance experience and a deep understanding of the company. He has been serving as CFO of the Microsoft Business Division, overseeing all financial strategy, management and reporting for the $18.9 billion business with 7,800 full-time employees. Previously he served as CFO of STB so he has a deep understanding of our Server and Tools business as well. Chris and Peter will work closely together over the next six weeks to ensure we have a smooth transition that builds on our solid platform of cost containment and strong execution. We are in the process of identifying the next CFO of the Microsoft Business Division and an announcement will be made in the near term.
Our finance operations are a critical part of our success as a company and I am very pleased with our position. In the past fiscal year, we have reduced our costs by $3 billion compared to the original plan, and in the last quarter we reported adjusted earnings of 52 cents per share. This is a big accomplishment and Microsoft is in a great position for the future. Today we have outstanding product momentum, healthy businesses and strong leadership. We also have good discipline around costs and a focus on driving shareholder value.
In closing, I would like to thank the finance team on a job well done and congratulate Peter on the promotion to CFO. I look forward to a great year and beyond.