Hewlett-Packard Co. said Thursday that chairman Ray Lane is stepping down, two weeks after he was nearly ousted by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting. He’ll continue to be a board member.
Shareholders are upset by a series of mistakes that have damaged the company’s share price, including the $8.8 billion write-down on the $10 billion acquisition of business software maker Autonomy in 2011.
At the March 20 annual shareholders meeting, Lane’s re-election as director received just 59 percent support, compared with 96 percent for Ralph Whitworth, a veteran shareholder activist who will run the board temporarily.
Two other board members targeted by the shareholder revolt decided to resign by the May board meeting. They were John Hammergren, a director since 2005 who got 54 percent support, and G. Kennedy Thompson, a director since 2006 who got 55 percent.
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“After reflecting on the stockholder vote last month, I’ve decided to step down as executive chairman to reduce any distraction from HP’s ongoing turnaround,” Lane said in a statement.
Meg Whitman, the former eBay Inc. head who took over HP as CEO in September 2011, thanked the three men in a statement. “Their leadership is reflected in the early success we’ve had turning the company around,” she said.
The company said it will now embark on a search for a permanent non-executive chairman as well as two more independent directors.