Whitman touted for HP CEO post as Apotheker reign crumbles

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Whitman touted for HP CEO post as Apotheker reign crumbles

Alex Scroxton

Former eBay boss, failed California gubernatorial candidate and HP board member Meg Whitman has been mooted as a potential successor to Léo Apotheker as doubts grow over the HP CEO's future.

The company's stock has risen dramatically in the past 24 hours after Bloomberg cited two HP insiders as saying the board was on the verge of giving Apotheker his marching orders following a series of lowered sales forecasts and strategic blunders over the future of HP's PC and mobility businesses.

Speaking this morning, TechMarketView chairman Richard Holway said Apotheker should now seriously consider his position.

However, he added, "the spotlight today should be on the HP board."

"HP now look in total disarray. Truly great global brands, and their associated reputations, have been seriously damaged," said Holway.

Apotheker joined HP last autumn in less than auspicious circumstances after being drummed out of SAP in February 2010, and in his 12 month tenure has done little to change the minds of his critics, overseeing a 47% plunge in HP's stock price that has wiped $60bn off its market cap.

If he was to be ousted, Apotheker would have the dubious distinction of becoming the third HP CEO in succession to leave under a cloud, after his predecessors, Mark Hurd and Carly Fiorina, were chucked over a sexual harrassment scandal and a spat over company strategy, respectively.

Prior to her short-lived political career and subsequent appointment to HP's board, Whitman captained eBay during a decade that saw the auction site's rise from a struggling internet start-up to an $8bn retail juggernaut.

However, she too left eBay in sorry circumstances, following slowing growth and suggestions that the firm overpaid for its acquisition of Skype. According to analysts she is not seen as a long-term choice for HP.

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