Here’s A Surprising Change in the Guard at Hewlett-Packard

hp_logoBased on concerns that “flawed oversight” was responsible for the Autonomy purchase, Chairman Ray Lane and three other members of the Hewlett-Packard’s (NYSE:HPQ) board were targeted by a referendum to remove them from their positions in last month’s re-elections. Their situation was made more precarious as investors have become increasingly dissatisfied by the direction the company has taken to combat declining personal computer sales and weaker corporate IT spending.

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Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of Autonomy in 2011 — which prompted a $8.8 billion accounting write-down in the fourth quarter of last year — both exacerbated by and resulting from many of the underlying problems that are still affecting the personal computer manufacturer to this day: management upheaval, stumbling strategy shifts, and stagnating growth in the company’s core personal computer business.

But, despite the fact that Lane survived the recent coup attempt, albeit by a very slim margin, he stepped down from his position Thursday. Director Ralph Whitworth will take over on an interim basis, reports CNBC. Directors John Hammergren and G. Kennedy Thompson, who were also narrowly re-elected alongside Lane, resigned as well.

Whitworth, who joined HP’s board in late 2011, is not an unknown entity. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, he “has made a career getting seats on boards and making dramatic changes.” Agitating on the part of the activist investor has helped oust numerous chief executives over the years, including Robert Nardelli from Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Gary Forsee of Sprint (NYSE:S).

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