Hewlett family member barred from board room elections

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It was never going to be a case of kiss and make up, but dissident shareholder Walter Hewlett is feeling the full wrath of HP CEO Carly Fiorina now that the merger between Compaq and HP is set to go ahead.

While it’s believed that the leaderene did make approaches through a third party to see if Hewlett might be able to stay on the company’s board of directors, he proceeded to blow that chance by filing a law suit in Delaware to appeal against the merger. While his chances of success seem minimal, it adds an unwanted complication at a time when both companies ought to be focusing on surviving the pain of the merger period.

On Monday, HP countered by announcing that Hewlett would not be on the slate of board candidates to be elected at the upcoming annual meeting. The company cited concerns ``about his lack of candour and issues of trust.'' Or in the blunter words of board member George ``Jay'' Keyworth: ``He was attacking each and every one of us.”

Hewlett, his family and his family's foundation, along with the Packard family and its foundation, hold 12 pe rcent of shares in a combined HP-Compaq company, enough to elect a board member. Had some rapprochment been achieved it might have helped rebuild employee morale which has reportedly been seriously buffeted by the turmoil of the merger campaign.

Quite why Hewlett has chosen the legal route is unclear. As recently as last Wednesday, reports from the HP/Compaq camps suggested that he was making conciliatory noises about not fighting in-battles and being a team player. But it seems he is irritated that Fiorina declared victory so soon, before the HP count is officially declared.

CRM Forum Opinion: Walter Hewlett's actions are not helping anyone, least of all the company with which his family shares its name. HP is about to go through what might well be a hellish period of merger and it's entirely in the interests of the wider IT industry that we get this over and done with as quickly as possible. Pointless gesture politics like this will merely prolong the inevitable.

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