Patricia Dunn, HP's embattled chairman, will be relieved of those duties after the board's 18 January 2007 meeting, but will continue as a director.
The announcement came this morning, following meetings of the board over the weekend and yesterday. Mark Hurd, HP's CEO and president will also take on the chairman's job. Richard Hackborn, who has been on the board since 1992, has been chosen as the lead independent director as of January.
Dunn has been under intense pressure to step down as chairman after it came to light last week that the board of directors carried out an investigation to determine who among the board leaked confidential information to journalists. The board admitted in a filing with the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) that the internal probe involved "pretexting", where employees of an investigative firm hired by the company pretended to be reporters to gain access to their telephone records.
Federal authorities, including the US Department of Justice and a congressional committee, are questioning the board's conduct in the probe and the California attorney general has said that charges are likely to be filed.
"The recent events that have taken place follow an important investigation that was required after the board sought to resolve the persistent disclosure of confidential information from within its ranks. These leaks had the potential to affect not only the stock price of HP but also that of other publicly traded companies," Dunn said in a written statement released by HP. "Unfortunately, the investigation, which was conducted by third parties, included certain inappropriate techniques. These went beyond what we understood them to be, and I apologise that they were employed."
Hurd pledged to take action to make sure that such "inappropriate investigative techniques" do not happen again. "They have no place in HP," he said in the statement.