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Microsoft CFO Liddell Steps Down

Outgoing Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell
Chris Liddell
Source: Microsoft
Microsoft said Tuesday that its Chief Financial Officer, Chris Liddell, is leaving the company after four and a half years -- but his replacement is already waiting in the wings.

He is to be replaced by a long-term Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) finance executive, Peter Klein, who joined the company in early 2002. Klein most recently has been the CFO of Microsoft's Business Division, which produces one of the company's cash cows -- Microsoft Office.

The Business Division has some 7,800 full-time employees and brought in $18.9 billion in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, according to Microsoft.

Klein also previously spent three years as the CFO of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, which is headed by President Bob Muglia. That organization is responsible for Visual Studio and Windows Server, as well as SQL Server, Exchange Server, and several other enterprise products.

Microsoft CFO Peter Klein
Peter Klein
Source: Microsoft
Liddell will be leaving after having presided over Microsoft's finances during a period when the company showed the first revenue and earnings declines in its history -- despite his having carved an additional $3 billion in expenses out of last fiscal year's budget.

Microsoft's more recent numbers -- for the first quarter of fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30 -- met analysts' expectations, in spite of continuing declines in sales and earnings.

Liddell, an affable New Zealander, most recently hosted Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting last Thursday.

Now, Liddell said he might try life as something besides a CFO in his next job but, in the meantime was fairly self-congratulatory regarding his tenure at Microsoft.

"We have built a world-class finance team and established strong internal accountability," Liddell said in a statement. "Microsoft is coming out of the economic downturn with not only great product momentum but also strong discipline around costs and a focus on driving shareholder value."

Prior to joining Microsoft in mid-2005, Liddell was CFO for International Paper, and before that he was CEO of Carter Holt Harvey Ltd., at the time New Zealand's second-largest listed company, according to his biography online.