FORMER CFO SUES MOTOROLA
Wow. A recent Chicago Tribune by Wailin Wong detailed how a corporate marriage can go bad. Very bad.
By way of background, in early 2008, Motorola, hired Paul Liska as the new Chief Financial Officer. Motorola’s flagship mobile phone unit, which once was on the cutting edge with innovations like the Razr cellphone, had taken on water and needed to get back on track. The plan was to separate the mobile phone division from the other Motorola business groups. The thought was that Liska’s background as a corporate dealmaker would prepare Motorola for the eventual separation of the phone unit.
Things apparently came to a boil in January of 2009. An important meeting was scheduled for January 28, 2009. Liska was to make a presentation at that meeting. According to Liska, he was concerned that certain Motorola financial forecasts were flawed and that Motorola had limited credibility with credit ratings agencies. Liska claims he shared those concerns with CEO Greg Brown prior to the presentation. At the January 28, 2009 meeting, Liska included those concerns in his presentation.
The next day, January 29, 2009, Lisak was shut out of a scheduled board meeting. That same day CEO Brown advised Liska that he was being replaced. And now the fur has begun to fly. Liska has filed suit against Motorola for retaliatory discharge, alleging that he was fired for attempting to bring his concerns about the flawed financial forecasts to a Motorola audit committee. Motorola, for its part, claims that Liska misrepresented his presentation to Brown and that his conclusions were misguided. In addition, Motorola claims that Liska had not been keeping abreast of the mobile business operations.
Recently unsealed court documents and filings provide some additional details on a business marriage gone bad. There was, according to Motorola, jealousy. Motorola alleged that Liska was jealous of the compensation package enjoyed by Chief Executive Sanjay Jha. Motorola additionally claims that as a result of that jealousy, Liska developed a “vendetta against Dr. Jha and the Mobile Business Devices business”. And, according to Motorola, there was pettiness. Liska failed to prepare for meetings and acted “abrasive and dismissive”. [I was under the impression that titans of commerce were supposed to be abrasive and dismissive – you know, like Donald Trump].
I suspect there will be further interesting revelations as this one winds it way through the litigation process.