HP seeks new CEO after harassment claim topples Mark Hurd


HP seeks new CEO after harassment claim topples Mark Hurd

Warwick Ashford

Hewlett-Packard is searching for a new chief executive after Mark Hurd's resignation in the face of allegations of sexual harassment and false expense claims.

HP said Hurd had submitted inaccurate claims for meals during business trips with a female marketing contractor, with whom he had "a close personal relationship".

The company found the contractor had received numerous inappropriate payments from HP.

The contractor, Jodie Fisher, who accused Hurd of sexual harassment, has accepted an undisclosed sum in settlement, according to the New York Times.

Hurd's sudden departure from HP wiped $10bn off the company's value as stocks fell 10% in after hours trading on Friday, The Telegraph said.

Senior staff are jockeying for the top job after interim chief executive and chief financial officer Cathie Lesjak said she would not remain in the role permanently, according to US reports.

Several outsiders, such as Steve Mills, head of IBM's software group, will be considered for the post, along with HP executive vice-presidents Todd Bradley, Dave Donatelli, Ann Livermore and Vyomesh Joshi, said analysts.

But the search for a new CEO will make running HP's operations more difficult, they said, as the company enters a challenging quarter with forecast sales of $32.5bn to $32.7bn, which although up 6% on the same quarter a year ago, represents a slower growth rate than the previous three quarters.

Hurd's replacement will be faced with the task of maintaining HP's dominance over Dell in the PC market and overseeing HP's push into services, networking and smartphones.

Despite the hiatus, Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds said Hurd's legacy of transforming HP into a cost control machine will live on.

"I don't expect HP's operational discipline to fade. Hurd achieved that result through his leadership team, and they will continue to execute his plan," he said in a blog post.

Given the operational foundation that Hurd built, HP has the opportunity to bring in a new leader who can take HP to the next stage, said Reynolds.

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