Predecessor’s strategy will continue, says former eBay chief
Hewlett-Packard (HP) has ousted Léo Apotheker as CEO and replaced him with former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, an HP board member since January.
Apotheker’s tenure at HP was for 11 months. He became the third CEO in a row to be fired by the board of the world’s largest computer maker by revenue. Apotheker, 58, replaced Mark Hurd, who was ousted due to a scandal.
The board of directors of the US-based company also named chairman Ray Lane as full-time executive chairman. The Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that the board had decided to remove Apotheker in the past one week and to replace him with Whitman, who the board believed would be the "best successor."
In the past few months, Apotheker was facing criticism from Wall Street, and shareholder lawsuits, over recent strategic decisions. Apotheker had repeatedly slashed the company’s sales forecast. On 18 August, he confounded investors by killing off a line of mobile devices including the TouchPad and announcing the discontinuation of its webOS hardware. He made it public that the company may spin off its PC division. HP’s $10bn deal to buy UK software house Autonomy has also been questioned by some analysts who consider it too costly for HP.
This year, HP’s shares have fallen 45.4%.
Whitman, 55, had entered politics, losing a bid last year to become governor of California. Before eBay, she worked at Procter & Gamble, toy company Hasbro, floral service FTD, footwear maker Stride Rite and Walt Disney.
After the announcement of her new role at HP, Whitman said, "I am honoured and excited to lead HP. I believe HP matters – it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world."
Whitman added that her appointment will not impact the company strategy laid out by her predecessor, Apotheker.
According to Bloomberg, in her first interview as HP CEO Whitman said the company will continue with its plans to acquire UK software maker Autonomy for $10.3bn and will continue to consider whether to sell or spin off the PC division.
"It [the appointment] does not signal a change in the strategy," Whitman said. "We are behind the actions that were taken on Aug. 18. We are firmly committed to Autonomy."
Ray Lane said, "We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman’s calibre and experience step up to lead HP.
"We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead."