Hewlett-Packard Board Shakeup Gives CEO a Fresh Start

With the departure of board chairman Ray Lane and two directors, Meg Whitman can focus on reviving growth.

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board shakeup, including Ray Lane’s exit as chairman, gives Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman a clearer path to revive growth and shake off years of tumult at the world’s largest computer maker.

A former president of Oracle Corp., Lane failed to use his extensive experience in enterprise computing to help Hewlett-Packard’s turnaround, and his public gaffes -- including being photographed using an Apple Inc. computer -- also sometimes served as an embarrassment to the company.

Stepping Down

After the March 20 vote, during the company’s annual shareholder meeting at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, Lane believed he wasn’t given sufficient credit for remaking the company’s board and ousting Apotheker, a person familiar with his thinking said. Shareholder unrest was also making it difficult for Hewlett-Packard to attract additional, high-quality directors to its board, this person said.

Board ‘Evolution’

Lane, who will remain on the board, received significantly more compensation in Hewlett-Packard shares than other directors during his tenure. In fiscal 2011, Lane received a special equity award of 1 million shares in connection with his appointment as executive chairman, in lieu of the equity retainer of $175,000 that other directors received.

Revival Efforts

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis & Co. had faulted the board for the Autonomy writedown, which followed the discovery of accounting improprieties, and for depleting the stock’s value through years of mismanagement. ISS had recommended investors vote against Chairman Lane and long- serving directors Hammergren and Thompson.

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