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Motorola Fired CFO Liska for Cause

Motorola fired former Chief Financial Officer Paul Liska for cause last month, the company disclosed in a proxy statement for its upcoming annual shareholder meeting.

Liska, who joined the company as executive vice president and CFO only last March 1, is now required to pay back a US$400,000 signing bonus and forfeit stock options.

Motorola announced last month that Liska had left the company and that corporate controller Edward Fitzpatrick had become interim CFO. In the proxy statement, filed Tuesday to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said Liska had been involuntarily terminated for cause. In Liska's employment agreement, "cause" is defined as "willful and continued failure to substantially perform duties," or fraud, indictment, or breach of contract, Motorola said.

Whether Liska's fault or not, the mobile and enterprise wireless company had a rough year during his tenure. For the full year 2008, Motorola lost $1.84 per share on revenue that fell from nearly $37 billion in 2007 to just over $30 billion in 2008. As it announced those results last month, the company also forecast a loss of $0.10 to $0.12 per share in the first quarter of this year.

Motorola's shareholder meeting is scheduled for May 4.

Motorola has been losing money and market share in its once-booming mobile-phone business, though its enterprise network business grew and its carrier infrastructure and home-networks unit was profitable in 2008's fourth quarter. Co-CEOs Greg Brown and Sanjay Jha have made changes in management and announced layoffs and other cost-cutting steps.

In March 2008, Liska took over from another interim CFO, board member Tom Meredith, who had been on the job since March 2007, when CFO David Devonshire resigned. Before joining Motorola, Liska had been a partner in private equity firms and played financial and general executive roles in transportation, publishing and retail companies.

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