By Poornima Gupta
SAN FRANCISCO, April 4 Hewlett-Packard Co
Chairman Ray Lane, who has come under fire from
shareholders for his role in the acquisition of software company
Autonomy Plc, has stepped down, the company said on Thursday, in
a shake-up that will usher in two to three new board members.
Director and activist investor Ralph Whitworth will become
interim chairman until a permanent replacement is found.
The action comes weeks after the Kleiner Perkins managing
partner, who will remain a director, narrowly won reelection at
the personal computer maker's annual shareholders' meeting with
less than 60 percent of voting shares compared with 96 percent a
Two other directors who kept their seats with narrow
margins, G. Kennedy Thompson and John Hammergren, will exit the
board, leaving the company looking for two to three new,
Lane is one of the most prominent casualties of an
acquisition that has incensed investors, who have publicly
upbraided the company for paying $11 billion for Autonomy and
for failing to conduct proper due diligence. HP eventually
swallowed a multi-billion dollar writedown on the asset's value.
"After reflecting on the stockholder vote last month, I've
decided to step down as executive chairman to reduce any
distraction from HP's ongoing turnaround," Lane said in
statement. "Since I joined HP's board a little over two years
ago, I've been committed to board evolution to ensure our
turnaround and future success."
The Autonomy deal capped a tumultuous decade for the company
that included the "pretexting" scandal of 2006, and in which the
board underwent numerous changes.
Whitworth had told shareholders at the March meeting to
prepare for an "evolution" of the board.
The upheaval comes as HP and CEO Meg Whitman are undertaking
a multi-year turnaround to stimulate growth at the company,
which was once synonymous with Silicon Valley but has since
stagnated as its personal computer and printer business
She has asked investors to be patient while the company
undertakes layoffs and cost cuts and expands into areas with
longer-term potential, such as enterprise computing services.
HP shares fell to $22.10 in after-hours trade, from their
close of $22.30 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.