Thursday was a busy day for the Hewlett Packard [HP] Board of Directors. They announced four new directors. They announced a dividend for shareholders. They also announced they were going to further investigate the firing of ex-CEO Mark Hurd and the bonuses paid him.
HP shareholders filed suit on January 14 to unearth the details about why the board forced Hurd out. The original reasons given were that their investigation found "no violation of HP’s sexual harassment policy, but did find violations of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct." The HP shareholders are questioning Hurd’s walking away with a reported $53 million in severance benefits.
Thirty days after leaving HP, Hurd was hired by Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison, who promptly named him co-president of the company and chastised the HP board for letting him go. The Hurd saga has the potential of being one of the longer running soap opera dramas in Silicon Valley history.
After the Thursday close of Wall Street, the HP Board announced that four directors – some of whom had been closely connected with Hurd either personally or professionally – have left the board. They are Joel Hyatt, John Joyce, Robert Ryan and Lucille Salhany.
The next shoe to drop was announcing five new directors. Surprisingly, they included the failed California Gubernatorial Candidate, ex-CEO of eBay, and billionaires, Meg Whitman. Whitman spent $160 million last year on losing to Governor Jerry Brown who spent $35 million.
The other new members are Shumeet Banerji, CEO of Booz & Company; Gary Reiner, former CIO of General Electric and an adviser at the private equity firm General Atlantic; Patricia Russo, former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent; and Dominique Senequier, CEO of AXA Private Equity.
The incoming directors, who are independent of any association with Hurd, will conduct the new Hurd inquiry. They will be assisted by outside lawyers the January 14 court filing said.
The remaining board members are Raymond J. Lane, Non-executive Chairman of the HP board and Managing Partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Marc L. Andreessen, co-founder and a general partner of Andreessen Horowitz; Léo Apotheker, HP President and Chief Executive Officer; Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr., Senior Advisor to Warburg Pincus and former Vice Chairman and President of Verizon Communications; Sari M. Baldauf, former Executive VP and GM of the Networks Business Group of Nokia; Rajiv L. Gupta, Senior Advisor to New Mountain Capital, and former Chairman and CEO of Rohm and Haas; John H. Hammergren, President, Chairman and CEO of McKesson; G. Kennedy Thompson, Executive Advisor to Aquiline Capital Partners and former President and CEO of Wachovia.
The HP board of directors next declared a regular cash dividend of eight cents per share on the company?s common stock. The dividend, the second in HP?s fiscal year 2011, is payable on April 6, 2011 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on March 16, 2011. HP has approximately 2.2 billion shares of common stock outstanding.
The next big item for HP will be their February 9th Press Conference announcements about the former Palm webOS. The rumors are that webOS 2.0 will have at least two tablets. HP will probably be announcing another round of smartphones based on webOS 2.0. Stay tuned, HP may just become a household name for something other than printers.