GM Picks Former Microsoft CFO to Run Its Finances

General Motors is naming Microsoft's Chris Liddell as its new chief financial officer.


GM is going outside the company to replace current CFO Ray Young, who is being transferred to China. The nation's largest automaker says the Microsoft CFO brings depth and experience to the job leading the company's global financial and accounting operations.

GM said Liddell, 51, would start at GM in January. He had previously announced that he would be leaving Microsoft at the end of December.

At Microsoft Liddell, a New Zealand native, had been responsible for the software giant's corporate strategy, treasury, accounting and investor relations. He joined Microsoft in 2005.

GM has faced sharp criticism for its financial management in recent years. Former Chief Executive Fritz Henderson, who had been chief financial officer, was dismissed by the automaker's board earlier this month.

His successor as CFO, Ray Young, was reassigned to GM's international operations in Shanghai earlier this month.

With the hire of Liddell, GM's acting chief executive and chairman, Ed Whitacre, has put together a new team of top managers that reports to him on the automaker's progress in restructuring after taking $50 billion in U.S. government aid.

Whitacre had cautioned that federal pay restrictions were complicating GM's search for outside hires for key executive positions, but said last week that the company had found a replacement for Young.

One of the first big challenges for Liddell will be to oversee the process of preparing post-bankruptcy accounting statements for GM that revalue its assets and liabilities.

Completing that "fresh start" accounting in the coming months is a prerequisite for an initial public offering of GM shares.

GM has lost $88 billion since 2005, excluding results for this year that included its bankruptcy.

Steve Rattner, the former investment banker who oversaw GM's restructuring as head of the White House-appointed autos task force, said in October that he and other U.S. officials were surprised by the "stunningly poor management" at GM, especially in its finance operations.

Last January GM settled a five-year probe of its accounting practices Securities and Exchange Commission related to errors in its treatment of pensions, derivatives and precious metals.

Since emerging from bankruptcy in July, the automaker has also had a harder-than-expected time disposing of the smaller and money-losing brands it no longer wants, including Saturn, Saab and Hummer.

A deal to sell Saturn to Penske Automotive Group collapsed in September. Last week GM said it had been unable to find a buyer for Sweden-based Saab and would shut it down, but indicated this week that it could consider additional offers for the 60-year-old auto brand.