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HP dumps Apotheker and hires Whitman

Simon Quicke

As expected Hewlett-Packard's board has brought to an end the reign of Leo Apotheker, who officially steps down to be replaced by the former CEO of eBay Meg Whitman.

The move ends two days of intense speculation that Apotheker's card was marked. He has seen the value of the vendor almost half in his 11 month stint as CEO and prompted an overwhelmingly negative reaction last month to his strategy to dump tablets, potentially sell its PSG hardware operation and pay what many thought was too high a price for Autonomy.

As well as bringing in a fresh CEO, the vendor's third since Mark Hurd took the job back in 2005, there was another shift, with Ray Lane moving from the position of non-executive chairman to executive chairman of the board.

Apotheker had caused serious waves across the channel, HP itself and the investment community in the past couple of weeks and his departure began to seem inevitable in the last 24 hours.

"We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman's caliber and experience step up to lead HP," said Lane.

"We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution.

"She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP's board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets," he added.

In a nod to the former CEO, who not only steps down from that role but resigns as a director of the company, Lane said on behalf of the board that he now was the time for a change and thanked Apotheker but underlined the need for him to go.

"The board believes that the job of the HP CEO now requires additional attributes to successfully execute on the company's strategy. Meg Whitman has the right operational and communication skills and leadership abilities to deliver improved execution and financial performance," he added.

There had been some talk of Whitman coming in as an interim CEO but in the last day sources have indicated that she is looking for a more long-term challenge leading the tech giant.

"I am honored and excited to lead HP. I believe HP matters - it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world," she said.

It is far too early to establish what the changes mean for the channel but many will be hoping that it not only puts an end to talk of a PSG sale as well as a possible reprieve for WebOS.



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