HP Board Considers Dumping Apotheker

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Hewlett-Packard shares went up on rumours that unpopular CEO could be for the chop

Less than a year after appointing Leo Apotheker as CEO, Hewlett-Packard’s board is reportedly meeting to consider sacking him.

The controversial executive, who came to HP from German software giant SAP last October, could be replaced in the short term by HP board member, and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, according to reports on Bloomberg, as HP responds to falling sales, and a storm of criticism over a major strategy change announced in August.

Serial bad management?

Apotheker, who was ousted from SAP after a year in the CEO’s chair, has faced sustained criticism at HP.

Falling sales have been blamed on competition from Oracle – which wants to wean users from HP hardware onto its own machines – and on previous CEOs Mark Hurd and Carly Fiorina

In August, Apotheker announced a huge change of direction, saying HP would cease its WebOS portable devices, was preparing to spin off its PC business, and would buy software firm Autonomy for $10.3 billion.

Every aspect of that announcement has been criticised: HP’s webOS-based TouchPad tablets have proved to be hot sellers at the remaindered price, the price of Autonomy has been described as far too high, and investors have sued over the company “misleading” them over its intentions for PCs and tablets.

HP shares, which had been falling, bounced back by about a dollar to $23.39 on the suggestion of Apotheker moving on. His possible successor, Whitman, was CEO of eBay for ten years, during which time she bought VoIP company Skype – a merger which went wrong (Skype was later bought by Microsoft).

Whitman and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina both failed to get elected to the US government last year.

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