Meg Whitman steps down as HPE CEO

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman is to step down after six years in charge

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) CEO Meg Whitman has announced she is to step down from the role in February 2018 after over six years in charge, with HPE president Antonio Neri named as her successor.

Whitman was elevated to the post of CEO at what was then merely HP in 2011, replacing Léo Apotheker, who was forced out over a series of strategic blunders. Apotheker was the third successive HP CEO to leave under a cloud, after his predecessors Mark Hurd and Carly Fiorina were forced out in a sexual harassment scandal and a disagreement over strategy respectively.

Initially tasked with simply holding the massive organisation together through a period of crisis, Whitman subsequently presided over the year-long break-up of HP into its successor organisations, enterprise ICT supplier HPE, and personal systems and printing business HP Inc.

She also oversaw the offloading of its enterprise software business to Micro Focus, and a number of key acquisitions, including wireless specialist Aruba and hybrid and all-flash memory supplier Nimble.

“I’m incredibly proud of all we’ve accomplished since I joined HP in 2011. Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” said Whitman, who will remain involved with the business as a director.

“I said for many years that the next leader of HPE should come from within the company and Antonio Neri is exactly the type of leader I had in mind,” she told analysts on a conference call transcribed by Seeking Alpha.

“Antonio is a 22-year veteran of our company who began his HP career as a customer service engineer in the EMEA call centre. He is a computer engineer by training, has a deep technology background, and is passionate about our customers, partners, employees and culture,” she said.

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“The world of technology is changing fast, and we’ve architected HPE to take advantage of where we see the markets heading,” said Neri.

“HPE is in a tremendous position to win, and we remain focused on executing our strategy, driving our innovation agenda and delivering the next wave of shareholder value.”

Financial results

HPE also reported its full-year and fourth quarter results. The firm made net sales of $37.4bn for the 12 months to 31 October, $8.5bn of that from the services and software business that it sold to Micro Focus. This was down 4.7% on 2016.

Meanwhile, fourth quarter revenues came in at $7.8bn, $175m of which was attributable to the software unit. Continuing revenues of $7.7bn were up 4.6% year-on-year once adjusted.

HPE booked full-year earnings of $400m, down 86% on 2016, and fourth quarter earnings of $400m, up 16% on the year-ago quarter.

Separately, HP Inc also issued its latest set of results for the same period. Full-year sales grew 8% to $52.1bn, and fourth quarter sales grew 11% to $13.9bn. Full-year net profit of $2.5bn was down 5%, although fourth quarter net profit was up 29% to $700m.

“I’m pleased with our consistent execution, ability to grow revenue, generate cash flow, and invest in our future to create sustainable growth over time,” said HP Inc CEO Dion Weisler. “It’s results like these that give us confidence in the trajectory of our business moving forward.”

Weisler said the organisation had seen double-digit growth in personal systems as the PC market rebounded this year, as well as decent growth in consumer and commercial printing hardware and supplies.

HPE claims to be the first in the industry to bring artificial intelligence-based infrastructure management software to market that can predict datacentre problems before humans.

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