HP Says Investors Supportive Despite CEO's Ouster


Hewlett-Packard Co said it has received an "extremely supportive" response from investors and customers following the surprising ouster of Chief Executive Mark Hurd for expense account irregularities.

Mark Hurd
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Chief Financial Officer and interim CEO Cathie Lesjak on Sunday acknowledged Hurd's contribution to HP's success, but said investors understood why HP acted, and that the company's management team was strong.

"The reassurance comes from understanding why we took the action that we took ... and then making sure that they understood that one thing changed in this company on Friday and that was the CEO left," Lesjak said on a conference call.

"The rest of the company has not changed," she said.

The world's No. 1 computer maker shocked Wall Street on Friday by announcing Hurd's resignation, accusing him of falsifying expense reports to conceal a "close personal relationship" with a female contractor.

Hurd was one of the most widely admired CEOs in the world, credited by many with reviving HP's fortunes after he took the reins of the company in 2005. Its shares fell 10 percent in extended trading Friday, after the announcement of Hurd's resignation was made.

Lesjak said HP has been transparent on the circumstances surrounding Hurd's departure, but declined to comment further on the matter.

Sources close to Hurd's camp have disputed HP's account of events. Hurd has reached a legal settlement with the woman who accused him of sexual harassment, and she has also agreed to release HP from legal claims, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Sunday it was reported in the San Jose Mercury Newsthat the woman at the center of this controversy issued a statement. The woman, 50 year old Jodie Fisher a former salesperson and sometime actress, said in a statement provided by her Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred that she had indeed resolved her claim against Hurd privately.

"I was surprised and saddened that Mark Hurd lost his job over this. That was never my intention," the woman said in her statement printed in the paper.

Hurd has denied any sexual relation and according to the statement, Fisher also claims that she and Hurd did not have a sexual relationship.

Lesjak, who has taken herself out of consideration for the CEO job, said the board search committee was moving swiftly to identify a new leader for HP.

Chief Technology Officer Shane Robison said the change will not affect the roll-out of new products. HP recently acquired both network equipment maker 3Com and smartphone maker Palm.