5 February 2002 Systems giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) is expected to announce 19 March 2002 as the date for a shareholder vote on its long-planned merger with Compaq Computer.
The saga has generated much bitter wrangling among HP shareholders and board members. However, following the unexpectedly early approval of the deal by the European Commission, HP is now free to arrange the crucial shareholder meeting three months ahead of schedule.
The US regulator, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is expected to conclude its anti-trust review shortly. Compaq CEO Mike Capellas had warned that both companies would be adversely affected if the deal was not finalised soon.
However, HP CEO Carly Fiorina still faces a groundswell of opposition from among HP stockholders, as well as the heirs of HP’s founders. This has been led by board member Walter Hewlett who commands a significant amount of support from among HP shareholders.
The Hewlett and Packard families also control around 18% of the company’s voting stock via various trusts. But Fiorina insists that the deal will receive the necessary approval. Yesterday, she insisted that there is already “more than sufficient” support for her to carry through the merger plan, which was announced in September 2001.