Microsoft spending requires planning says Kiwi CFO

Chris Liddell, Microsoft Corp.'s expat Kiwi chief financial officer (CFO), has a nice problem ' lots of cash.

Speaking at Microsoft's recent Business Value customer event in Auckland, which was held to coincide with the pending release of Windows Vista and Office 2007, Liddell noted that for most of his career, 'I've worked for companies where debt is the main balance sheet issue ' but Microsoft is the opposite.'

With approximately US$40 billion (NZ$59 billion) in cash reserves, Microsoft has a huge money mountain, and spending it requires careful planning, Liddell said.

'We have to think about how much we spend on acquisitions, on research and development and on buying back stock ' we've bought back $20 billion worth since I've been in the job'.

Liddell started at Microsoft in August 2005, after serving as International Paper Co.'s CFO for two years, a role he was appointed to after serving as chief executive of Carter Holt Harvey Ltd. from 1999 to 2002, when it was half-owned by International Paper.

Before that, he was Carter Holt's CFO. He has also worked for investment bank Credit Suisse Group's Credit Suisse First Boston and engineering firm Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner Ltd.