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Normal Motors faucets Delta’s Paul Jacobson to fill the CFO job

General Motors announced Monday that it is suspending its quarterly dividend and stock buybacks to save cash during the coronavirus pandemic.

JEFF KOWALSKY | AFP | Getty Images

General Motors has hired Delta Air Lines CFO Paul Jacobson to replace Dhivya Suryadevara, who unexpectedly left GM for the digital payments company Stripe in August, the automaker announced on Friday.

Jacobson, 48, has been with Delta since 1997. This included the September 11th terrorist attacks, Delta’s 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines, the Great Recession, and most recently the coronavirus pandemic. He has been CFO of Delta since 2012 and in April lifted his resignation, announced in February, as the airline was exposed to the severe financial impact of the virus. His appointment as GM's CFO will take effect December 1st.

Jacobson is an important addition to GM as it starts new ventures and continues to reorganize its business into all-electric vehicles. He is also tasked with helping the automaker convince Wall Street that it is undervalued. GM stock has not seen sustained growth in the past decade.

At Delta, Jacobson was instrumental in Delta's strategies and was instrumental in accounting initiatives that resulted in nearly $ 10 billion in deleveraging. He was named the best CFO in the aviation industry eight times by Institutional Investor Magazine's poll of Wall Street analysts and investors.

Paul Jacobson, CFO of Delta

Source: Delta Airlines

Jacobson's decision to leave the company comes during the worst aviation crisis. US airlines lost more than $ 11 billion in the third quarter alone. Collecting cash quickly became a priority for airlines. In his final months as Delta CFO, the company raised billions to help weather the pandemic, including a $ 9 billion debt sale backed by its loyalty program, an industry record. The announcement of Jacobson's departure from Delta comes roughly two months after the airline's COO, Gil West, announced his resignation.

"Paul is a great addition to GM's leadership team and is committed to running the company for the benefit of all parties – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders," said Mary Barra, CEO of GM, in a press release.

In a statement, Jacobson said the company's so-called triple-zero vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion "is compelling because it takes into account the needs of society, customers and investors, and a historic technology shift towards electrification performs from a position of strength. "

John Stapleton, acting CFO of GM since August 31, will continue to serve as chief financial officer for North America, a position he has held since January 2014.

Delta said it will "conduct a global search to identify its next CFO" and that two senior executives – Business Development and Financial Planning directors Gary Chase and Bill Carroll, senior vice president of finance and controllers – will serve as co-CFOs in the meantime.

– CNBC's Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.

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