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Hewlett Packard chairman steps down

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Ray Lane will step down as chairman of Hewlett-Packard after a rocky two-and-a-half-year tenure, the company announced on Thursday. Lane’s time as chairman was marked by several scandals, a tumultuous change in leadership and a mostly plummeting stock price. His departure isn’t all that surprising. In a vote held last month, HP reported that 41 percent of shareholders voted against Lane’s reelection as chairman. “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,” said Lane in a statement. “I’m proud of the board we’ve built and the progress we’ve made to date in restoring the company.” Lane said he will remain on the company’s board. Directors John Hammergren and Kennedy Thompson, who received 45 percent and 46 percent of the votes against their reelection, will step down in May. Lane was brought in as chairman of HP after CEO Mark Hurd was unceremoniously ousted in a sex and expense report scandal. Brought in alongside then-new CEO Leo Apotheker, Lane shook up the company’s board, ousting the directors involved in Hurd’s hiring. One of the new directors was eBay CEO Meg Whitman, whom Lane hand-picked, according to Fortune. A year later, Lane gave the thumbs-up to Apotheker’s plan to buy British software company Autonomy for $11 billion, kill off the just-released TouchPad tablet and possibly spin off HP’s PC division. The strategy was unveiled on Aug. 18, 2011, and the stock tanked 20 percent the next day. A month later, Lane announced that Apoteheker had been fired and would be replaced by Whitman. Whitman’s reign as HP CEO has been rocky. The company announced last December it would write down $8.8 billion of Autonomy’s value — $5 billion of which was due to alleged accounting fraud. Shares tumbled to their lowest point in a decade. The company’s stock has since recovered, surging nearly 57 percent this year — though shares are only half as valuable as when Lane took over as chairman in November 2010. Prior to joining HP, Lane was the managing partner of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, investing mostly in enterprise software companies. Before that, he was president and chief operating officer at Oracle. Lane left Oracle in 2000 after reportedly clashing with CEO Larry Ellison. After Lane took over as HP’s chairman, HP picked several fights with the software giant. The HP-Oracle feud is even juicier considering that Hurd is now the president of Oracle. Company Director Ralph Whitworth will serve as HP’s interim chairman while the board searches for Lane’s replacement.

 

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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