4 March 2002 Disgruntled Hewlett-Packard (HP) investors, led by dissident board member Walter Hewlett, have invited former CEO Lew Platt to return as interim chairman if the $22 billion (€25.5bn) merger with Compaq is rejected.
Platt headed up the IT giant from 1992 to 1999 and is widely credited with recruiting the incumbent, Carly Fiorina. However, he is also known to be an opponent of the proposed merger.
A rattled HP responded indignantly to Hewlett’s calls for Fiorina to be fired if the deal is scrapped and criticised his attempts to recruit Platt as “an outrage and blatant disregard of a director’s responsibilities”.
The proposed merger has been met with fierce opposition from HP’s founding families and some investors. Supporters have argued that building scale is crucial to remaining competitive in a consolidating industry. Exchanges between the two camps have become increasingly hostile in the run up to the 19 March shareholder vote.
In a separate development, a Los Angeles, California-based law firm has filed a suit aimed at derailing the deal. The action, filed by Weiss &Yourman on behalf of a group of HP investors, alleges that the company violated US law by “omitting material information” in its filings with regulators.
The complaint asks for HP to file a “corrective proxy statement” before proceeding with the shareholder vote and calls for executives to re-assess the value of the transaction.