Report: H-P bolsters defenses, hires Goldman Sachs

Sep 29, 2011 By JORDAN ROBERTSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Hewlett-Packard is beefing up its defenses in an effort to fend off activist investors who, with enough shares, could demand drastic changes at the company, according to a published report.

The reported Wednesday on its website that Hewlett-Packard Co. has hired to help formulate a strategy for guarding against shareholder activism. The Journal cited people "familiar with the matter" who were not named in the report.

Asked about the report, an H-P spokesman said only that the company "has long-term relationships with a large number of ."

With the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's market value down some $60 billion since former CEO resigned under pressure last year, H-P is under intense pressure to engineer a turnaround.

Last week, H-P fired Hurd's replacement, , after less than a year on the job, citing poor communication. Apotheker was replaced by former eBay Inc. CEO , who got a mixed reaction from Wall Street.

H-P's depressed stock price makes it a target for activists, who could demand changes up to and including the breakup of the company. H-P is already trying to sell or spin off its PC division, but the company has also indicated it may keep the business.

If "H-P were looking for more ways to anger investors, this will fit the bill," Steve Diamond, an associate professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, said of H-P's reported hiring of Goldman.

The culture of Silicon Valley has generally frowned upon aggressive attempts to thwart shareholder actions because of a widely held view that "a vibrant market for corporate control is a healthy disciplinary device on ineffective boards and management," said Diamond, who specializes in corporate law.

Also Wednesday, ., an H-P rival and partner whose outspoken CEO has publicly mocked the H-P board's latest decisions, tweaked H-P some more with a pointedly worded news release.

Oracle disputed suggestions from Mike Lynch, the CEO of Autonomy, a company H-P is buying for $10 billion, that Autonomy hadn't tried to sell itself to Oracle. Oracle's Ellison said last week that Autonomy was shopped to Oracle and that Oracle passed. The price H-P is paying is "absurdly high," Ellison said. Lynch appeared to refute that in media interviews, suggesting that Autonomy hadn't been directly shopped to Oracle, but may have been presented as a possible takeover candidate by investment bankers.

In the news release Wednesday, Oracle said that Lynch and his banker met personally with Oracle executives on April 1 to discuss a possible sale, and that Oracle still has the PowerPoint slides to prove it.

Oracle has been a thorn in H-P's side ever since Oracle decided to buy server maker Sun Microsystems last year for $7.3 billion and Ellison decided to hire his tennis buddy Hurd to serve as an Oracle co-president. is a leading server maker, and Oracle's acquisition of Sun puts the longtime partners into direct competition with each other.

Explore further: BlackBerry courts iPhone users with cash

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Apotheker a no-show in Oracle-SAP trial

Nov 19, 2010

(AP) -- An industrial espionage trial between Oracle Corp. and SAP AG, two of the world's biggest business software makers, didn't feature after all the testimony of one of its most anticipated witnesses.

Oracle, ex-HP CEO Hurd in talks for job

Sep 06, 2010

(AP) -- Former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd is in talks to take a top executive job at Oracle Corp., the database software maker run by his friend Larry Ellison, a person with direct knowledge of the discussions said ...

Hurd shows new Oracle machine; silent on scandal

Sep 20, 2010

(AP) -- Former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd made his public debut as a co-president at Oracle Corp. Monday, showing off a new data-storage computer at the company's annual conference.

Ellison: Oracle has $4 billion case against SAP

Nov 08, 2010

(AP) -- Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison turned up the pressure in an industrial espionage trial Monday by testifying that archenemy SAP AG should have paid $4 billion for licenses to Oracle software.

Oracle CEO: about 1,000 layoffs planned for Sun

Jan 28, 2010

(AP) -- Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison cheered the closing of his company's $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems on Wednesday, vowing that Sun will immediately add to Oracle's profits. He said layoffs ...

Recommended for you

Toyota finds new air bag issue, recalls more cars

2 hours ago

Toyota Motor Corp. recalled more than 40,000 vehicles in Japan on Thursday as part of a worldwide scare over defective air bags and is investigating a new type of air bag problem that could lead to further recalls.

Netflix sues Yahoo CIO for alleged kickbacks

16 hours ago

Netflix is suing a former company vice president who is now chief information officer at Yahoo, accusing him of receiving money from vendors he hired to work with the video streaming company.

BlackBerry courts iPhone users with cash

Nov 25, 2014

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is wooing Apple customers with a cash offer for trade-ins of iPhones for its new square-screened, keyboard-equipped Passport.

HP earnings show continued struggle

Nov 25, 2014

Venerable tech giant Hewlett-Packard has been struggling for three years to turn its business around. Its latest earnings show it still has more work ahead.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.