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Hewlett-Packard names Irish chief
Monday, April 29 2002
by Matthew Clark

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As the industry awaits a ruling from a US court on the fate of the HP-Compaq merger, the firm said that Martin Murphy will head the merged company in Ireland.

Murphy is currently the general manager of Hewlett-Packard's Irish operations. If a Chancery Court in Delaware throws out a case that is seeking to block the proposed merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer, Murphy will preside over the combined company's operations in Ireland, it was announced on Monday.

That trial, between Hewlett-Packard and former HP board member Walter Hewlett, alleges that the company's executives, including chief executive officer Carly Fiorina, used improper means to garner votes for the 19 March shareholder vote on the merger. That vote passed in favour of HP management, but only by the slimmest of margins. The announcement from Judge William B. Chandler III is expected on Monday or Tuesday.

Company spokespeople have also said that David Wright, head of Compaq in Ireland, will become the firm's EMEA integration manager. But the firm will not say how many jobs it expects to cut here, if the court rules against Walter Hewlett, effectively closing the book on the issue and sealing the deal between the two firms.

Between them HP and Compaq employ over 4,000 in Ireland and it is expected that the merger will lead to thousands of job losses around the world between the two firms. Any job cuts in Ireland are expected to be less severe than in other regions, however, partly because HP's Irish workforce is focused on manufacturing and Compaq's workers here are devoted mostly to IT services. There is little overlap between the firms in the Republic.

In other related news it was revealed over the weekend that HP's lawyers have asked Judge Chandler to rule in the company's favour and also asked the judge to publicly vindicate "the integrity and moral rectitude" of Fiorina and Robert Wayman, HP's chief financial officer.

It should be noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US is also reportedly looking into whether Fiorina or any other executives at HP committed any improper acts in relation to the merger. It is thought by many however that the ruling in Delaware could be a precursor to how the SEC will decide on the matter.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Hewlett-Packard shareholders elected eight new members to its board, and for the first time in the company's history, there's neither a Hewlett nor a Packard among them. Elected to the new HP board were Carly Fiorina, Philip M. Condit, Patricia C. Dunn, Sam Ginn, Richard A. Hackborn, George A. Keyworth II, Robert E. Knowling Jr. and Robert P. Wayman.

If the company's merger succeeds, five Compaq directors will join the HP board.



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