Microsoft execs compete in hunt for new CFO

SEATTLE — Microsoft’s search for a new chief financial officer is pitting Tami Reller and Amy Hood — the top finance executives at the company’s two most profitable divisions — against each other, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Reller, CFO of the Windows unit, and Hood, her counterpart at the business division, are front-runners to succeed Peter Klein, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the search is private. Rik van der Kooi, chief operating officer for the Online Services unit, is also a leading candidate, one of the people said. A replacement could be named as soon as next week, this person said.

The new CFO will play a key role in overseeing Microsoft’s $74.5 billion in cash and investments and its stock buybacks and dividend payouts. The executive will also help Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer cope with plunging demand for personal computers and investors’ concerns over the company’s struggle to keep pace with rivals in phones and tablets. Reller or Hood would be Microsoft’s first female CFO.

Klein said last month he’s stepping down to spend time with his family, and the company said he would be replaced by an internal candidate.

Peter Wootton, a spokesman for Redmond-based Microsoft, declined to comment.

Of the three, Reller would be the hardest to replace if promoted, one of the people said. The Windows unit hasn’t had a president since the departure of Steven Sinofsky in November.

Reller, who also handles marketing, has her hands full seeking to boost the reception of Windows 8, which has failed to revive a moribund PC market since its release in October.

Reller joined Microsoft with the 2001 acquisition of Great Plains Software, where she served as CFO. As a marketing chief, Reller has a more public-facing role than Hood and does frequent interviews. Both have significant experience talking to investors and analysts.

Hood began working at Microsoft in 2002 in investor relations and then worked under Klein, handling business strategy when he served as CFO of the Office unit. She played a key role in the $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer Inc. last year and worked closely with Ballmer on the 2011 purchase of Skype Technologies SA, Microsoft’s biggest deal.

Van der Kooi, who joined Microsoft in 1999, served as CFO of the online unit before overseeing the unit that makes software for advertisers and publishers. He became COO for the entire online business in February.

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