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HP: Merger Vote Stands After Independent Preliminary Tally

Hewlett-Packard Co. officials said Wednesday that a preliminary tally of the March 19 shareholder vote on HP's merger with Compaq Computer Corp. supports HP's initial claim that the controversial proposal was approved.

The preliminary tally by independent inspectors of election puts shareowners in favor ahead of those against by 45 million shares -- giving HP a margin of victory under 3 percent. The total shares voted in favor were 837.9 million. Total shares voted against the merger were 792.6 million.

"We are gratified the preliminary vote tally validates that HP shareowners voted the majority of their shares in support of the merger," Carly Fiorina, HP's chairman and chief executive officer who staked her job on the merger, said in a statement. "We are eager to put this difficult period behind us and look forward to doing business as the new HP."

HP's statement on the preliminary tally downplayed the closeness of the vote. Instead the company chose to highlight that the opposition was concentrated in shares controlled or affiliated with the Hewlett and Packard families. Walter Hewlett has been the most vocal opponent of the merger.

"Almost half [of the votes against the merger] were affiliated with the Hewlett and Packard families and foundations," the HP statement reads. "Shareowners not affiliated with the Hewlett and Packard families and their foundations voted for the merger by a margin of roughly 2:1."

Opponents can demand a recount, and both parties would participate in a review of the proxies. HP expects the process would last about a week. The final tally is also subject to a challenge process that could take another few days.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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