Meg Whitman: HP's PC Business Will Be Decided in October

Tue Oct 4, 2011 4:22pm EDT

On her seventh day as CEO of Hewlett Packard, Meg Whitman said she would decide before the end of October whether to spin off the company’s $43 billion PC business.

 “I want to make that decision much faster than the previous CEO,” said Whitman, at a Fortune conference Tuesday. “Uncertainty is not our friend. People are wondering whether to buy HP products.”

Hewlett Packard is the world’s largest personal computer maker, and spinning off that business would represent a fundamental shift from the company’s roots in hardware toward the growth business in software and mobile devices.

The giant tech company has been facing turmoil, with its former CEO Mark Hurd ousted a year ago over ethics concerns and the share price falling with lowered financial targets this entire year.

Whitman said she felt confident about what needed to be done at the company, which generates $130 billion a year in revenue.

“I have quite a clear vision of what needs to be done here,” she said. “After 35 years in business, I’m not in search of a manual.”

She outlined three priorities: meeting fourth quarter projections; making a swift decision on the PC business; and integrating Autonomy, a $10 billion British software company which HP acquired. That deal closed on Tuesday, Whitman said.

Whitman said her failed run for Caifornia governor prepared her for the challenge of taking on Hewlett Packard, which has 320,000 employees.

"I’m far better equipped to run HP today than I was had I not run for governor," she said. "I’m a lot tougher. I’ve got a skin that’s 100 times thicker than when I left eBay."

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