SEC investigating Mark Hurd’s departure from HP

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into the abrupt departure of Mark Hurd as Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive earlier this year, focusing in particular on whether Hurd leaked details about HP’s confidential intentions to acquire Electronic Data Systems. Hewlett-Packard acquired EDS—the technology services company founded by Ross Perot—back in May 2008 for a whopping $13.9 billion.

Mark Hurd stepped down as CEO of Hewlett-Packard in August of this year after the HP board concluded Hurd had violated the company’s standards of business conduct regarding his relationship with a female marketing contractor, as well as doctoring expense reports to obscure the extent of the relationship. SEC investigators are reportedly looking into whether Hurd disclosed details of the EDS acquisition plan to the marketing contractor; however, other reports have the SEC looking into other aspects of Hurd’s time at HP. There is no information about how long the SEC probe has been underway.

After leaving Hewlett-Packard, Hurd quickly landed on his feet as co-President of Oracle. HP immediately filed a suit against Oracle claiming there’s no way Hurd wouldn’t be able to serve without violating his non-disclosure agreement with HP; the companies reached a settlement; however, Oracle is now indicating that it’s looking to ratchet up competition with Hewlett-Packard in the high-end server market. Since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems the database giant now competes with HP, IBM, and others for enterprise hardware and software solutions. During Oracle’s second quarter earnings call, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison noted that Oracle sees IBM’s server and software offerings as very competitive, but described HP’s position in the market as “particularly vulnerable.”

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