was seemingly a significant day for Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) with the board firing divisive CEO Léo
Apotheker and pegging former eBay, Inc. (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman as his replacement. Now
it looks like that move might have been more of a token gesture to placate angry shareholders than an actual sign
Reuters reported mid-yesterday that insiders stated that HP
executives had not deviated from plans to butcher the company, gutting the core
Personal Systems Group in a spinoff and discarding the webOS devices business. That report was
confirmed yesterday in a brief interview of new CEO Meg
Whitman by Bloomberg Businessweek. The new
CEO commented, "It [the leadership change] does not signal a change
in the strategy. We are behind the actions that were taken on Aug. 18. We are
firmly committed to Autonomy."
The news set investor pessimism to new highs. The unpopular plans and
outrage at analysis that HP is grossly overpaying to buy UK software
maker Autonomy, Corp. Plc. (LON:AU) sent shares plunging to new lows. Stock
was down 4.4 percent in today's trading to beneath $21.80. Previously
shares had hit a low of $22.22 -- a 47 drop from when Mr. Apotheker assumed the
CEO position. Initially when news hit of Mr. Apotheker's departure, stock
jumped to $24.92 on hopes that the leadership change might signal a course
correction for HP.
If there's a ray of sunshine in the gloomy outlook for HP, it's that HP will
owe Mr. Apotheker no severance pay, unlike previous CEO Mark
Hurd who was given a severance package estimated to be worth
between $25M and $50M USD.