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Lane defends HP decision to name Whitman CEO

Chris Kanaracus | Sept. 22, 2011
Newly appointed Hewlett-Packard executive chairman Ray Lane vigorously defended the company's decision to oust CEO Leo Apotheker and replace him with board member and former eBay head Meg Whitman.

HP also should have conducted a proper executive search, Sacconaghi argued.

"We would view any decision not to conduct a comprehensive search of internal and external candidates for a permanent CEO role as unsatisfactory and unnecessarily hasty," the note states. "We also believe that shareholder reaction to Whitman as a permanent CEO would be mixed."

HP decided against conducting an outside search for a new CEO for a number of reasons, according to Lane. "We knew we had outside options, but we had fairly recent data from a search conducted last year. There are good people out there."

"We looked at inside candidates who are not ready," and Lane himself "looked at an interim role," he added. But from the beginning, Lane expected Whitman to emerge as the top candidate, and the only question was whether she'd commit, he said. "If we thought there was a better choice on the outside, we would have conducted the search."

Lane also fired back against critics of HP's board.

"This is not the board that fired Mark Hurd," he said. In addition, "this board did not select Leo," Lane said. "More than half are new" since Apotheker's arrival.

To that end, Lane responded with some sarcasm to past speculation that Apotheker stacked the board with allies. "I remember having to answer the question, 'is this a bunch of his buddies?' Remember all those reports?"


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