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WSJ: Apotheker ouster from HP CEO job imminent

Rumors of the move had been circulating for some time

Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker will likely be removed from his position on Thursday and replaced by HP director and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Rumors had swirled in recent days that HP's board was about to part ways with Apotheker, a former CEO of business software vendor SAP. Only a small percentage of HP's business currently comes from software, a fact Apotheker sought to change in a strategy he laid out soon after joining the company in September 2010.

But the market reacted badly to a series of announcements and moves Apotheker made, including the planned purchase of infrastructure software vendor Autonomy and a possible spinoff of HP's PC division. This last decision sparked a major downturn in HP's stock price, a turn of events that may have pushed the company's board to act quickly with respect to Apotheker's job.

The experience must have had an element of deja vu for Apotheker, given the trouble he experienced as sole CEO of Germany-based SAP.

A long-time SAP executive, Apotheker ultimately lasted less than a year in the top post there as well, and was replaced by insiders Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott in February 2010 as SAP returned to the co-CEO format it had used in the past.

It's not all bad news for Apotheker. If removed, he would walk away from HP having earned roughly US$35 million in severance and stock as well as salary and other benefits received since he started work, according to the Wall Street Journal

HP didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the WSJ's report, but has declined in the past to discuss Apotheker's future status.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com


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