Motorola gets a new CFO

The struggling handset maker appointed Paul Liska, a former private equity executive, to the chief financial officer post Thursday.

Mobile phone maker Motorola has named Paul Liska, a former private equity executive, as chief financial officer, the company said late Thursday.

Liska, who had been a partner for private equity firms including MidOcean Partners, CVC Capital Holdings and Ripplewood Holdings, will take the top finance spot at the company starting March 1. He will replace acting CFO Tom Meredith, and he'll report directly to Chief Executive Officer Greg Brown.

Brown became CEO in January after former CEO Ed Zander was forced to step down amid pressure from investors due to the company's worsening financial situation.

Motorola has been shaking up its top management as it struggles to get its fledgling handset business back on track. The company has seen its market share in the handset market fall dramatically over the past year. The company fell from second place to third in terms of handset shipments during 2007. Meanwhile, market leader Nokia has grown market share to about 40 percent.

The biggest problem Motorola has been facing is a lack of compelling and popular handsets, especially in Europe. The company hasn't had a hit phone since the Razr. Amid the turmoil, the company announced last month that it is considering "strategic options" to get the company back on the right track, which could include selling its handset business. Still, top executives are adamant that the company does not want to sell the handset business, and it's looking for other alternatives.

Liska has experience helping get value out of businesses. While working in private equity, his task was to go in and help run companies, which were typically underperforming. And before working for private equity firms, Liska had been at Sears, where he ran its credit business. While there, he helped Sears sell the division to Citigroup in 2003 for $6 billion.

 

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