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Microsoft CFO heads to new post at GM

Chris Liddell joins General Motors as vice chairman and chief financial officer. He'll start at GM in the new year.

Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell is trading in his old job for a new role at General Motors.

GM announced Monday that Liddell will join the automaker at the start of 2010 as its new vice chairman and chief financial officer.

Chris Liddell, GM's new CFO
Chris Liddell, GM's new CFO Microsoft

As Microsoft's CFO since May 2005, Liddell led the company's global finance group where he managed a variety of tasks, including acquisitions, corporate strategy, treasury activities, tax planning, accounting, internal auditing, and investor relations. Microsoft said that during this past fiscal year, it slashed costs by $3 billion and rewarded investors with $14 billion in dividends and stock buy-backs.

Liddell announced in November that he would be leaving Microsoft at year's end. At the time, he didn't indicate specific plans for his next professional role, but said he wanted to look at opportunities beyond his career as a CFO. Stepping in for Liddell as Microsoft's new CFO will be Peter Klein, currently the CFO of Microsoft's Business Division.

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

The 51-year-old Liddell has an educational background that includes an engineering degree with honors from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and a master of philosophy degree from Oxford University in England. He also served with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a member on its Advisory Committee on Improvements to Financial Reporting.

Before joining Microsoft, Liddell was finance chief at International Paper and, before that, chief executive of Carter Holt Harvey, the paper company's New Zealand-based affiliate.