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Ray Lane Finally Steps Down As HP Chairman

It was long overdue but Hewlett-Packard chairman Ray Lane yesterday said he was stepping down, but will remain on the company's board of directors. Two other board members, John Hammergren and G. Kennedy Thompson said they will exit the board when their terms expire next month.

The three were up for re-election this week and got by with a slim majority but the vote made clear investors were not happy with the three. Many fault Lane for the way he guided former CEO Leo Apotheker and the chaos that erupted under Lane's reign as chairman.

The dysfunction came to a head in August of 2011 when Apotheker simultaneously announced the company was evaluating the divestiture of its PC group, the demise of its TouchPad tablets less than two months after their release and the $10.3 billion acquisition of Autonomy -- a deal that turned out to be worth a small fraction of what HP paid. The company wrote off most of that deal. That led to Lane's ultimate ouster a month later when Meg Whitman was named CEO.

In a statement, Lane tacitly acknowledged the level of dissatisfaction with him. "After reflecting on the stockholder vote last month," Lane said. I've decided to step down as executive chairman to reduce any distraction from HP's ongoing turnaround."

Indeed Lane and his board colleagues did the right thing. By most accounts, HP is making progress, albeit incremental, under Whitman. Employee morale is improving and the company's stock is up. But as Whitman warned, it will take years to right HP's ship. Investor confidence is a step in the right direction.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/05/2013 at 1:15 PM


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