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CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: Former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Ralph Whitworth Speaks with CNBC's Kelly Evans on "Closing Bell" Today

WHEN: Today, Monday, October 6th

WHERE: CNBC's "Closing Bell"

Following is an unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Ralph Whitworth on CNBC's "Closing Bell" today. Following is a link to the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000317492.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

KELLY EVANS: LET'S DIG A LITTLE DEEPER INTO THIS SPLIT. WITH ME NOW IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW IS FORMER HP CHAIRMAN RALPH WHITWORTH. RALPH, WELCOME. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

RALPH WHITWORTH: HAPPY TO BE WITH YOU HERE, KELLY.

EVANS: DO YOU AGREE WITH THE ASSESSMENT JOSH JUST READ ABOUT THIS BEING A SPLIT FROM WEAKNESS RATHER THAN STRENGTH?

WHITWORTH: NO. IT'S TOTALLY OUT OF OFFENSE. A LOT OF THESE MOVES ARE. SO, IT'S NATURAL THAT HE MAY REACT THAT WAY OR HAVE A FIRST REACTION, BUT THIS IS FULL-BLOWN OFFENSE. AND IT'S JUST A MUCH BETTER WAY TO PRESENT THE ASSETS TO THE MARKET. AND AS YOU HEARD MEG SAY ON THAT EARLIER SEGMENT, THEY CAN – YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE MORE NIMBLE COMPANIES, MORE FOCUS AND THEY CAN SERVE THE CUSTOMERS AND THE SHAREHOLDERS BETTER.

EVANS: IT SOUNDS LIKE HEWLETT-PACKARD AND OTHERS THAT HAVE DONE THIS OFTEN ARE SPLITTING INTO ONE COMPANY THAT IS CASH AND ONE THAT'S GROWTH. TO PUT IT SORT OF CRUDELY. IS THAT A FAIR ASSESSMENT OF WHAT THIS SPLIT IS ABOUT? KIND OF SEPARATING ONE CASH GENERATING BUT STAY A BUSINESS THAT MIGHT HAVE A NICE DIVIDEND AND AN ANOTHER THAT MIGHT COMMEND A HIGHER VALUATION BECAUSE IT HAS BETTER GROWTH PROSPECTS? AND IF THAT'S THE CASE, WOULDN'T THE ARGUMENT FOR KEEPING THEM TOGETHER BE THAT THE CASH FUELS THE GROWTH AND SO WHY DOESN'T IT MAKE SENSE TO STAY AS ONE COMPANY? OR AM I MISREADING THE SITUATION?

WHITWORTH: THAT, KELLY, IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE REASONS WHY YOU WANT TO SPLIT THEM BECAUSE YOU'RE RIGHT. I MEAN, THIS IS – YOU REALLY DO FOCUS ON ASSET CHARACTERISTICS WHEN YOU ARE DECIDING HOW TO PUT TOGETHER A BUSINESS SOLUTION. AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED HERE. AND THEY'RE RATIONALIZING THEIR PORTFOLIO OF ASSETS AND THEY HAVE, YOU KNOW, PUT THEM INTO GROUPS THAT FIT DIFFERENT MARKET DEMANDS. SO ACTUALLY THE SHAREHOLDERS ARE ALWAYS CONCERNED, WHETHER IT'S THIS COMPANY OR OTHERS, ABOUT WHAT WE CALL CROSS SUBSIDIES. WHERE YOU HAVE A CASH GENERATING BUSINESS THAT MAY BE FEEDING A BUSINESS THAT IS FOCUSING ON GROWTH, OR THE FUTURE, WHEN YOU REALLY WANT THAT BUSINESS TO STAND ON ITS OWN OR ELSE GO OUT AND GET ITS CAPITAL FROM THE MARKET. SO, THIS IS – IT'S ACTUALLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT WAS SAID EARLIER.

EVANS: WELL, AND I WONDER, TOO, IF THIS IS A VALIDATION OF A STRATEGY LAID OUT BY LEO APOTHEKER BACK DURING THAT DIFFICULT PERIOD FOR THE COMPANY. IS THIS EFFECTIVELY JUST A VERY LATE, YOU KNOW, HEWLETT-PACKARD COMING AROUND TO AN IDEA THAT HAS BEEN OUT THERE FOR A LONG, LONG TIME AND WHY NOW? WHY MAKE THIS MOVE NOW?

WHITWORTH: YEAH, I WOULDN'T SAY LATE. THIS IS LATE. I'D SAY THAT WAS EARLY. AND THE ANNOUNCEMENT, AS YOU REMEMBER, WAS JUST A STATEMENT THAT SAID THEY MIGHT DO IT, WHICH WAS WHAT REALLY CONFUSED THE MARKET AT THAT TIME AND CONFUSED THE CUSTOMERS AND JUST LED TO A LOT OF CONFUSION. SO, THIS IS ACTUALLY THE RIGHT TIME BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN SPENDING THE PAST THREE YEARS GETTING THESE PLATFORMS IN PLACE, GETTING THEM CLEANED UP. YOU KNOW, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF FOCUS ON EFFICIENCY, INNOVATION AND THIS IS THE PERFECT MOMENT TO DO THIS. I'M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT AS A LARGE INVESTOR. AND YOU CAN SEE FROM THE STOCK PRICE THAT THE STREET IS, AS WELL.

EVANS: YOU KNOW, RALPH, IS IT BITTERSWEET FOR YOU AS WELL, THOUGH, HAVING HAD TO STEP DOWN FROM THE BOARD IN JULY? THIS WAS ONE OF YOUR HIGH PROFILE CAMPAIGNS AND WE KNOW YOU'RE STRUGGLING WITH THROAT CANCER AND HOPE THAT YOU'RE DOING WELL DURING THIS PERIOD. AND AGAIN, WHEN THIS IS AN ISSUE, BOTH PERSONALLY OF DEALING WITH THAT AND DEALING WITH YOUR INVESTMENT COMPANY, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME SEEING THE STRATEGY YOU WERE PUSHING FOR NOW COMING TO FRUITION. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

WHITWORTH: WELL, NO, I'M JUST HAPPY TO SEE IT. IF YOU REMEMBER THE BERLIN WALL WENT DOWN UNDER GEORGE BUSH, BUT EVERYBODY THINKS OF IT AS RONALD REAGAN'S PROGRAM. SO I'M NOT REALLY WORRIED ABOUT WHERE THE CREDIT IS OR ANYTHING. THIS HAS REALLY BEEN MEG THAT HAS DRIVING THIS AND THE BOARD. AND THE MANAGEMENT TEAM. IT REALLY – THERE'S NOT ONE PERSON THAT'S BEEN PUSHING THIS OR BEHIND IT.

EVANS: UNDERSTOOD. AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE STRATEGY, THERE ARE FINANCIAL REASONS, THERE ARE STRATEGIC REASONS. THERE HAS BEEN SOME CRITICISM AS MORE COMPANIES LOOK TO KIND OF – DIVORCE FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD – THAT THIS IS BEING DRIVEN BY FINANCIAL INTERESTS AS IF THAT'S A NEGATIVE. IS THERE – WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO LOOK AT A HEWLETT-PACKARD, A 75 YEAR OLD COMPANY, AND SOME OF THE OTHERS THAT HAVE SPLIT UP LATELY AND SAY, YOU KNOW, THIS IS TOO BAD, OR IT IS TOO SHORTSIGHTED, OR THIS IS A MOVE THAT IS IN THE INTEREST OF WALL STREET, BUT PERHAPS NOT IN THIS FIRM FOR THE LONGER TERM?

WHITWORTH: OH, WELL, YOU KNOW, YOU ALWAYS HEAR THAT LONG TERM, SHORT TERM THING. BUT THIS IS BOTH A FINANCIAL, I MEAN, IT'S VERY RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE A FINANCIAL PLAY, BUT ALSO, OPERATIONAL. BECAUSE THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS FOR THE LONG TERM AND THE KNOCK ON EFFECT WILL BE THE ABILITY OF THEM TO FOCUS BETTER AND TO HAVE MORE NIMBLE OPERATIONS. AND THAT IS ACTUALLY WHAT DRIVES THE FINANCIAL RESULT. THE FINANCIAL RESULT IS JUST AN OUTCOME THAT COMES FROM STRONG OPERATIONS. AND THIS IS OPERATION FOCUSED.

EVANS: AND HERE'S A NOTE AS RBC FLAGS THIS. BUT HEWLETT-PACKARD HAD ARTICULATED, IT CONTINUES TO HOLD MATERIAL NONPUBLIC INFORMATION THAT IS LIMITING SHARE BUY BACKS. THEY THINK IT COULD BE NEARING A SIZABLE DEAL, ESPECIALLY ONE THAT WOULD FIT WITHIN THE ENTERPRISE BUSINESS. AND THE COMPANY HAS COMMENTED ON PERHAPS SOME FURTHER M&A. WHEN WE SEE THESE COMPANIES SPLITTING OFF, IT IS OFTEN NOT THE END OF THE STORY. A LOT OF TIMES THERE IS AN ACQUISITION THAT COMES NEXT OR THE COMPANY ITSELF BECOMES MORE AQUISITIVE. WHERE IS THIS ALL HEADING? IS THIS THE LAST IN THE CHAPTER FOR NOW THAT HEWLETT-PACKARD JUST SPLITS INTO TWO COMPANIES? OR DO YOU THINK THERE'S AN ACQUISITION ABOUT TO HAPPEN HERE?

WHITWORTH: OH, GOODNESS, DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THAT ONE, KELLY.

EVANS: WOULD IT BE IN HEWLETT-PACKARD'S INTEREST FOR IT TO NOW LOOK AROUND AT SOME OF THE ASSETS AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET AND PURSUE ANY OF THOSE, IF I CAN PUT IT THAT WAY INSTEAD?

WHITWORTH: YOU KNOW, THESE KIND OF HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS, I KNOW THAT THERE'S A LOT OF DISCUSSION OUT THERE AND IT'S AN OBVIOUS QUESTION, BUT IT'S, YOU KNOW, SO SPECULATIVE.

EVANS: FAIR ENOUGH.

WHITWORTH: IT'S NOT MY PLACE OR MY ROLE TO SPEAK TO THAT.

EVANS: ONE MORE QUESTION THAT WE ASKED MARK SUE, WHO IS THE RBC ANALYST EARLIER ABOUT AND HE SAID, YOU KNOW, LOOK, IN THE CASE OF CISCO WHICH HE THINKS COULD BENEFIT FROM THIS KIND OF MOVE, THE COMPANY HAS BEEN WAITING AND PERHAPS A LOT OF TECH COMPANIES WAITING FOR U.S. TAX POLICY OVERHAUL THAT NOW LOOKS LIKE IT'S NOT COMING. IS THAT PART OF THE REASON WHY HEWLETT-PACKARD PROBABLY HAS NOW PURSUED THIS MOVE, DO YOU THINK?

WHITWORTH: OH GOSH, I CAN'T IMAGINE A COMPANY BASING A STRATEGY ON SOMETHING THAT CONGRESS MIGHT DO. AND SO, I MEAN, THAT'S ANOTHER THING THAT'S OUT THERE. YOU KNOW, IT SOUNDS – IT'S A GOOD CATCHPHRASE, BUT NO, THIS IS JUST FOCUSED ON, YOU KNOW, STRONG OPERATIONS, INNOVATION, PUTTING THE COMPANY IN A POSITION, PRESENTING THE ASSETS TO THE MARKET IN THE BEST WAY TO ACHIEVE THE HIGHEST VALUE.

EVANS: UNDERSTOOD. AND RALPH, BEFORE WE LET YOU GO, HOW ARE YOU DOING? WE ARE EAGER TO KNOW.

WHITWORTH: I'M DOING GREAT. AND I'M HAPPY TO BE HERE ON LIVE TELEVISION. AND WE'RE – I'M SLUGGING AT IT.

EVANS: WELL, THAT IS GREAT TO HEAR. OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH YOU AS YOU BATTLE THIS CANCER. RALPH WHITWORTH, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE THIS AFTERNOON. SEEING AGAIN THE STRATEGY THAT YOU HAD PUSHED FOR NOW COMING TO FRUITION AS HEWLETT-PACKARD SPLITS IN TWO. REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

WHITWORTH: YEAH, DELIGHTED TO BE WITH YOU.

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