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Liddell Quitting Microsoft CFO Position

Microsoft announced last week that Chris Liddell is stepping down as Microsoft's chief financial officer.

Liddell will serve until Dec. 31, after which Peter Klein will assume Microsoft's CFO position. Klein currently serves as the CFO of Microsoft's Business Division.

In the last year or so, Liddell oversaw Microsoft's first companywide mass layoffs. More than 5,000 positions were cut, although some employees were rehired in different positions within the company. Microsoft initiated the layoffs as part of a renewed focus on cost cutting, prompted by the global economic downturn and declining revenues, particularly in its Windows division.

In October, Liddell announced that Microsoft's cost-cutting measures had reduced operating expenses by 10 percent year over year. Those measures included freezing employee wage hikes, cutting back on travel expenses and reducing Microsoft's vendor support. Microsoft's employee numbers plummeted by 4 percent year over year, according to Liddell. The company employed 93,000 workers full time worldwide in 2009.

Microsoft also began issuing debt in the form of company bonds for the first time under Liddell's tenure, which lasted four-and-a-half years.

Liddell apparently left voluntarily, and will be seeking other positions beyond the CFO role, according to Microsoft's announcement. He previously served as International Paper Co.'s CFO before joining Microsoft and was CEO at New Zealand's Carter Holt Harvey Ltd. prior to joining the paper company. A Bloomberg.com article suggested that Liddell is aiming for a CEO position "at a technology company."

Microsoft has not yet announced who will take Klein's position at the Business Division. Before joining the Business Division, Klein served as the CFO of Microsoft's Server and Tools Division for three years. Klein has been with Microsoft for more than seven years and previously worked at McCaw Cellular Communications, Orca Bay Capital and HomeGrocer.com.

"Peter brings great finance and operations expertise and a deep understanding of the company, and I am looking forward to a smooth transition that continues our commitment to cost containment and finance excellence," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a prepared statement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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