HP may oust CEO, hire eBay veteran - source

Updated: 2011-09-22 09:45


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HP may oust CEO, hire eBay veteran - source
Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker delivers the keynote address at the HP Summit in San Francisco, California in this March 14, 2011 file photo. [Photo/Agencies] 

Hewlett-Packard Co's board convened on Wednesday to consider ousting Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker after less than a year on the job and replacing him temporarily with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a source familiar with the matter said.

HP's board of directors - facing shareholder lawsuits and intensifying criticism from investors - is thrashing out a host of issues, including whether to name Whitman as the interim CEO, the source told Reuters.

The storied Silicon Valley giant is fighting to restore its crumbling credibility. During his 11-month tenure, Apotheker slashed sales forecasts repeatedly, backtracked on promises to integrate Palm's webOS software into devices, and struggled to halt a 50 percent plunge in the share price.

No decisions have yet been made about leadership, the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Wall Street roared its approval, sending HP shares up 6.6 percent to close at $23.96, a gain of $3 billion in the company's market value.

If Apotheker is let go, he would be the third CEO in a row to be ousted by the board of the largest US technology company by sales.

Analysts say the odds may have been stacked against Apotheker from the beginning. Venture capitalist Ray Lane, who this year assumed chairmanship of an often-lambasted but powerful board, has argued that previous management underinvested in areas including software and services.

"He was doomed from the beginning," said Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White. "The die was cast for whoever stepped into that position."

HP may oust CEO, hire eBay veteran - source
Republican candidate Meg Whitman smiles at the first of three debates in the California governor's race at the University of California, Davis in this Sept 28, 2010 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]