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Xero mulling chairman Chris Liddell's status after White House appointment

Wednesday 18th January 2017

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Cloud-based accounting software company Xero says it is still considering whether chairman Chris Liddell's position is compatible with his new role as a White House adviser in the Trump administration and will update the market when a decision is made.

Kiwi expat Liddell, a former Microsoft executive, has been appointed an assistant to US President-elect Donald Trump, heading up the strategic development group and taking a lead on bringing the incoming president's big-ticket projects. Republican candidate Trump won last year's November election with a campaign promising major infrastructure spending, tax reform, and more protectionist trade and immigration policies. He will officially take over the White House at his inauguration on Friday in Washington. 

Wellington-based Xero is still determining what that will mean for Liddell's seat at the chair of the board, a position he's held since 2014. 

"We've only just officially heard the news ourselves so we’re working out what that means for us and whether as board chair, he will have to resign his directorships as per government policy," a spokeswoman said in an email. "Chris is working through his options, and when decided, the board will make a formal announcement."

Last year, Xero centralised its US operations in Denver where it plans to service the world's biggest economy with hubs in San Francisco, New York, Austin and Seattle. The company hired former Capital One executive Keri Gohman to run its American business, which is central to the New Zealand firm's ambitions to be a global player. 

Liddell's board appointment coincided with that of Hewlett-Packard executive Bill Veghte and was part of a plan to bolster its North American leadership credentials. 

Xero's shares last traded at $18.50, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

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