H-P board mulls management revamp

/ Source: The Associated Press

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board of directors discussed shifting some day-to-day responsibilities from CEO Carly Fiorina to other executives in an effort to improve the technology giant’s performance, according to a published report Monday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the board discussed granting more control to three senior executives at its annual planning meeting that took place between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 in San Francisco.

Fiorina’s job is not in question, one source told the newspaper. “But she shouldn’t be running everything every day,” the person told the Journal. “She is very hands on, and that slows things down.”

H-P said the report was speculation.

“Boards discuss a wide range of topics consistent with their fiduciary responsibilities, and any speculation about these discussions is just that — pure speculation,” H-P spokesman Bob Sherbin said in a brief statement.

The board did make structural changes at a recent meeting, he added, but those were announced Jan. 14. That’s when H-P said it was combining its highly profitable imaging and printing division with its personal computer unit.

“There are no other senior changes due in the near future,” Sherbin said.

In the Jan. 14 move, printer chief Vyomesh Joshi was named to lead the combined group. Joshi also was identified as one of the three executives who would gain more day-to-day responsibilities under the scenario that was discussed by the board.

The other executives who could take on more responsibilities include Ann Livermore, who heads the services and enterprise computing division, and Shane Robison, H-P’s chief technology and strategy officer.

Fiorina, named H-P’s first outside chief executive in 1999, dramatically cut the number of its business units and shifted more executive authority to the CEO’s office. She also led H-P’s contentious $19 billion merger with Compaq Computer Corp. in 2002.

Though revenues have doubled since Fiorina arrived, in part due to the Compaq merger, profits have only just returned to levels not seen since the tech bubble burst.

Performance also has been uneven. In August, it missed fiscal third-quarter expectations and blamed a new internal computer system as well as other execution problems. Three executives were fired.

But H-P turned around in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 31, with earnings rising 26.5 percent to $1.09 billion and sales up 8 percent to $21.39 billion.

Still, H-P shares are down about 55 percent since Fiorina’s arrival — significantly more than chief rivals IBM Corp. and Dell Inc.