HP picks former SAP exec Leo Apotheker as new CEO - Technology

HP picks former SAP exec Leo Apotheker as new CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hewlett-Packard Co. named veteran computer software executive Leo Apotheker as its new CEO.

Thursday’s announcement ends the technology giant’s nearly two-month search to replace Mark Hurd. HP forced out Hurd in early August amid allegations of sexual harassment and deceptive expense reports.

Apotheker was the CEO of business software maker SAP. He left the Walldorf, Germany-based company in February. He had been with SAP since 1988 and became co-CEO in April 2008.

The news comes as something of a surprise. HP was expected to go with an insider for the new CEO after the last two CEOs – Hurd and his predecessor, Carly Fiorina, both outsiders when they were hired – clashed with the board and were forced out.

HP also named another former software executive, Ray Lane, as its non-executive chairman. Lane is managing Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capital firms. He once was the No. 2 executive at Oracle Corp., a position now held by Hurd.

Shares of HP were briefly halted after the stock market closed. When after-hours trading resumed, the stock sank $1.37, or 3.3 percent, to $40.70.

HP’s CEO slot is one of the most coveted and troubled in the technology world. Apotheker is the third CEO HP has had in the past decade.

Hurd was pushed out in August after a five-year reign in which he slashed costs – including cutting 50,000 jobs – and bought scores of companies to reduce HP’s dependence on its cash-cow printer ink.

The company is now a player in technology services, where it competes with IBM Corp., computer networking, where it competes with Cisco Systems Inc., in addition to PCs and other technologies.

Hurd was revered on Wall Street, as HP’s market value nearly doubled under his watch. But he ran afoul of HP’s ethics policies, which he tightened after a scandal four years ago involving HP’s board spying on the phone records of journalists and board members.

The former CEO was found to have submitted inaccurate expense reports for his dinners with an HP marketing contractor, Jodie Fisher. She accused Hurd of sexual harassment, which kick-started an investigation by HP that uncovered the expense reports. Hurd insists he didn’t prepare his own reports, and that Fisher’s name wasn’t intentionally left off any of them.

Fisher and Hurd settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Hurd fought with the board over its decision to publicly disclose the claim, even though it found no evidence of sexual harassment.

HP’s stock has dropped 15 percent since Hurd’s abrupt resignation Aug. 6, wiping out $20 billion in shareholder wealth.