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GM CFO: ‘More of the Same’

Roy Harris | July 19, 2011
New GM CFO Ammann brings investing skills to the job

In stepping in as finance chief at General Motors, an automaker reborn in a post-bankruptcy IPO in July 2009, 38-year-old treasurer Daniel Ammann brings years of experience in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, and before that at Credit Suisse. Unlike fellow New Zealander Chris Liddell, who is stepping down as CFO after just over a year on the job, he lacks experience in the role of corporate finance chief.

Before joining GM as CFO in January 2010, the 52-year-old Liddell had served as CFO at Microsoft, and before that at International Paper.

There was speculation whether Liddell’s departure in part reflected his having been passed over for the CEO’s job when Daneiel F. Akerson was selected late last year. For his part, Liddell said only that there had been “no wider context” than that he had accomplished his job, and found it the “time to move on”.


Under his Purview

Ammann, who told reporters he pictured doing “more of the same” in the CFO’s job, was named vice president, finance, and treasurer of the Detroit-based auto making giant last April. In leading the New York-based treasurer's office, he oversees other operations in Detroit, Shanghai and Zurich — where capital markets activities, capital planning, business development, risk management, worldwide pension funding, banking and finance are his purview.

GM has had three CEOs and two CFOs since emerging from a government-backed bankruptcy in July 2009, Bloomberg News reported. It noted that Liddell's exit follows the departures of powertrain vice president Jamie Hresko in March and GM Brazil president Denise Johnson in February. “They had management problems that caused the company to go into bankruptcy, and they still do,” Maryann Keller, principal of a self-titled consulting firm in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S. "It smacks of confusion at the highest ranks of GM."

Before joining GM, Ammann had been managing director and head of industrial investment banking at Morgan Stanley, serving in that post since 2004. During his 11 years at Morgan Stanley, he had been involved with assignments that included technology, service, and manufacturing clients. "His diverse experience includes mergers, acquisitions, raising capital, and restructuring, and he advised GM during its restructuring and subsequent Section 363 sale," GM's bio says of him, adding that he also had spent five years at Credit Suisse in New York and New Zealand.


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