Shareholders of technology giant Hewlett-Packard have sent the company’s leaders a clear message: it’s time to move on from the era of former CEO Mark Hurd. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting, investors approved the nominations of five new members to HP’s board of directors, along with new CEO Leo Apotheker himself, as well as seven sitting board members. Each of the board members up for election received more than 50 percent of shareholders’ votes each.
Earlier this month, advisory firm International Shareholder Services urged its clients not to approve new members’ nominations to the company’s baord of directors, claiming HP broke its own rules by letting new CEO Leo Apotheker participate directly in the nomination of the five new members. ISS also objected because Apotheker had previous relationships with four of the five nominees, with three of the nominees technically having been clients of Apotheker during his tenure as CEO of database and business software giant SAP. HP characterized ISS’s analysis of HP’s policies as “flawed” and urged investors to back the nominations.
The five new members of HP’s board are Booz & Company CEO Shumeet Banerji, former General Electric CIO Gary Reiner; former Alcatel-Lucent CEO Patricia Russo, AXA Private Equity CEO Dominique Senequier, and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Apotheker was also elected to the board. The nominations were announced in January, 2011.
The new configuration of the HP board—up from 13 to 17 members—bolster’s Apotheker’s position that it is time to get new blood into HP’s decision-making processes and move on from the era of former CEO Mark Hurd. The HP board came under significant criticism for the way it handled the departure of former CEO Mark Hurd amid sexual harassment allegations, including letting Hurd walk with an extraordinarily large compensation package. (Hurd, no co-president of Oracle, has since waived a good portion of that.) Although the board’s new configuration means that there are now enough members to oversee a potential independent investigation of Hurd’s exit, HP seems inclined to let the incident fade into the company’s past.