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Motorola CFO Paul Liska Departs

The telecom giant also reported a whopping fourth-quarter loss and stopped paying dividends.
Stephen TaubFebruary 3, 2009

On Tuesday, the same day it announced a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.6 billion and the suspension of the quarterly dividend, Motorola announced that its prominent CFO, Paul J. Liska, is leaving the company. Liska, a former finance chief of Sears, Roebuck, and The St. Paul Cos. who has been CFO of the telecommunications giant for less than a year, will be replaced by Edward J. Fitzpatrick, senior vice president and corporate controller.

The company named Fitzgerald to the additional role of acting CFO said it has started a search to find a replacement for Liska. “We appreciate the contributions Paul made toward the company’s planned separation [a spinoff of its struggling cell-phone business] and in managing our cost-reduction activities,” according to a statement by Greg Brown, Motorola’s president & co-chief executive officer and CEO of Broadband Mobility Solutions, and Sanjay Jha, co-chief executive officer and CEO of Mobile Devices.

Fitzpatrick is currently responsible for accounting, financial reporting, budgeting, financial controls, compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and Securities and Exchange Commission rules, and financial operations. Previously, he was corporate vice president of finance for the company’s Home & Networks Mobility business.

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The company reported that its mobile phone sales were $2.35 billion, down 51 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago. The operating loss on the cell-phone business was $595 million, compared to an operating loss of $388 million last year.

Motorola said its suspension of its 5 cents per share dividend is part of a plan to cut costs by $1.5 billion in 2009. The company did not provide further details on how it plans to reduce expenses.

Last month, Motorola announced that it would eliminate 4,000 positions, including 3,000 associated with its mobile devices business. Those are on top of the 3,000 cuts the company made in the last quarter of 2008.