19 Jan 2017

Xero chair resigns after Trump appointment

4:34 pm on 19 January 2017

New Zealand businessman Chris Liddell is stepping down as chair of the accountancy software company Xero.

Christopher and Renee Liddell at an exhibition opening in New York in 2015.

Chris Liddell Photo: AFP

US President-elect Donald Trump yesterday appointed him to lead a strategic development group in his incoming administration.

Mr Liddell, a former chief executive of Carter Holt Harvey, has in recent years held senior positions at Microsoft and General Motors.

Xero director Graham Smith will take over the role of independent chair from tomorrow.

The company's CEO, Rod Drury, thanked Mr Liddell for his time at the head of the board.

"Chris leaves us in a good position with strong global revenue growth, our subscription revenues growing faster than our costs and a goal to achieve cash break-even with cash on hand. We wish him all the best in his exciting new role."

He said the incoming chair, Mr Smith, had a strong background in finance and the software industry, and had been a member of the board for two years.

Liddell to work for US admin with private sector

According to a news release from Mr Trump's transition team, Mr Liddell will lead the president's Strategic Development Group. He will focus on priority projects and work with the private sector.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Trump said Mr Liddell had led large complex companies in the private sector and played an instrumental role in the transition, where he was a special adviser on presidential appointments.

Mr Trump said his skill set was needed to effect substantial change and he was delighted to have him in his executive team.

Mr Liddell grew up in Auckland and was named New Zealand Businessman of the Year in 2011.

He was the executive director of the previous Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney's campaign transition planning team, and he has authored a book on presidential transitions.

Mr Liddell is also the chair for the Next Foundation, a New Zealand philanthropic fund for organisations working on social and environmental projects.

A spokesperson said no decision had been made yet about whether he would stay on in that role.