DETROIT – General Motors chief financial officer Chris Liddell, a key architect of the automaker’s revival after its 2008-09 near-collapse, announced his resignation Thursday after one year in the job.
The former Microsoft executive who turned to the auto industry to help with GM’s $49.5 billion government bailout and reorganization is leaving after the company reported its fourth straight profitable quarter.
Marking its successful emergence from bankruptcy in July 2009, GM raised $23.1 billion last November in the largest public offering in history.
Liddell, 52, joined GM in January, 2010 and led the company’s financial and accounting operations on a global basis.
“Chris was a major contributor during a pivotal time in the company’s history,” said Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO.
“He guided the company’s IPO process and established a good financial foundation for the future.”
Analysts speculated that Liddell may have been disappointed when GM’s board turned to Akerson after Ed Whitacre resigned as CEO last August.
When he arrived at GM, Liddell was already on short list of future chief executives in the tech sector, and had made no secret that he wanted to be a CEO “someday.”
Lidell’s departure also suggested rifts in the company over other issues such as effort to build a new in-house finance subsidiary and a recent decision to ratchet up incentive spending for staff.
Akerson also has been moving executives recently in an apparent effort to build an organization more to his liking.
Dan Ammann, 38, a former banker with Morgan Stanley, will succeed Liddell as chief financial officer, effective April 1, 2011. Ammann, 38, is currently GM vice president, finance and treasurer.
“Dan’s depth of knowledge of the financial community and our business will be instrumental as we continue to earn the trust of global investors and customers,” said Akerson.
“He is held in high regard on Wall Street and within the company and, as we move our financial strategy forward, his credibility and leadership will be invaluable,” Akerson said.
Ammann has played a major role in the key financial decisions at the new GM. He has been actively engaged in setting the financial strategy and reducing debt.
“I came to General Motors to be part of something great,” said Liddell. “My objective was to help rebuild this iconic company and I am particularly pleased that through this process, we have also developed a strong successor in Dan Ammann,” Liddell said
Markets took the news negatively, with GM’s shares dropping 4.0 percent in early trade before recovering slightly.