January 20, 2011, 5:09 PM —
In a massive shake-up of its board of directors -- perhaps prompted by a shareholder lawsuit regarding the exorbitant severance pay awarded former CEO Mark Hurd last summer -- Hewlett-Packard announced that four of its current board members would not be running for re-election.
The departing members are being replaced by five new members, including Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of online auction giant eBay who recently lost her campaign for California governor to Jerry Brown.
Joining Whitman on the HP board will be Booz & Company CEO Shumeet Banerji; Gary Reiner, former chief information officer of General Electric; Patricia Russo, former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent' and Dominique Senequier, CEO of AXA Private Equity.
Current board members Joel Hyatt, John Joyce, Robert Ryan and Lucille Salhany will not seek re-election at HP's annual shareholders meeting in March, the company said.
Once the changes are made, HP will have 13 members on its board.
Thursday's announcement follows reports that HP has hired outside lawyers to investigate the "circumstances surrounding the departure of Mark Hurd and the board's decision to approve the separation agreement between HP and Mr. Hurd."
Hurd resigned abruptly last Aug. 6 amid allegations of sexual harassment by Jodie Fisher, an HP contractor, and expense-account irregularities. He was given a $53 million severance, prompting the shareholder lawsuit alleging that HP's board had been financially irresponsible in granting Hurd the extravagant package.
One month later Hurd was hired as co-president of Oracle. Former SAP co-chief executive Leo Apotheker eventually took the top job at HP.
Given Whitman's reputation for being short-tempered, I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that first board meeting. She reportedly paid a $200,000 settlement to an eBay employee she allegedly shoved.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.