Hewlett-Packard Replaces a Third of Its Board

Manila Bulletin, January 21, 2011 | Go to article overview

Hewlett-Packard Replaces a Third of Its Board


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Hewlett-Packard Co.'s decision to replace a third of its board of directors is the latest milestone in a marathon management makeover that the technology icon hopes will allow it to move on after a series of management scandals.The shake-up announced Thursday is the first sweeping leadership change under HP's new CEO Leo Apotheker and Chairman Ray Lane.They were hired three months ago to draw up fresh battle plans for the world's biggest technology company by revenue. HP was roiled by the abrupt ouster of former CEO Mark Hurd and is trying to find its bearings in new markets far afield from its mainstay computer and printer businesses.Hurd's forced exit in August angered many shareholders, who saw billions of their dollars evaporate on the stock market. Hurd was despised by many HP employees for his extensive job and cost cuts, but was loved on Wall Street because in five years he oversaw a near doubling of HP's market value.HP shares didn't fully recover from the August swoon until earlier this month.Hurd's generous severance triggered lawsuits accusing HP's board of squandering company money. His immediate move to rival Oracle Corp. added to investors' ire.The decision by four of HP's current board members to not stand for re-election at HP's annual meeting in March represents an unusually large exodus for a company of HP's size.HP would only say that it "continually looks to bring new insight and perspective" to the company.The company's revelation came the same day that another technology heavyweight, Google Inc., disclosed a surprise reshuffling of its own: CEO Eric Schmidt is relinquishing the job to Google co-founder Larry Page.HP's housecleaning comes as the company opens a new investigation into the circumstances of Hurd's departure and severance, in response to shareholder demands.Hurd was accused of sexual harassment, but HP's board found no evidence of that. Instead, he was forced out over inaccurate expense reports for his outings with his accuser, a former HP contract worker who helped organize networking events for HP executives.Hurd got a $12.2 million cash payout and filed papers to sell some $30 million worth of stock that he got by exercising options that were part of his severance.Spectators howled. Hurd and HP tangled again, and Hurd agreed to give back $14 million in restricted stock to head off a courtroom battle. Hurd is now a co-president at Oracle.A spokesman for Hurd declined to comment on the investigation. Hurd's resignation is also the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe.HP has been unable in recent years to escape controversy.Among the incidents were the firing of Hurd's predecessor Carly Fiorina in 2005, an episode of spying on journalists and board members' telephone calls in 2006, and finally the handling of allegations of sexual harassment against Hurd last year. …

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