HP claims victory on early results

Hewlett-Packard Co. claimed an early victory Tuesday in its acquisition bid for Compaq Computer Corp., saying preliminary results indicate shareholders have approved the deal.

“Based on preliminary estimates, we believe we have received sufficient votes to approve HP’s merger,” said Carly Fiorina, chief executive officer and chairman at HP, during a question and answer session with the press at the special shareholder meeting here. “We of course acknowledge this is not a final vote.”

“A decisive majority of shares not affiliated with HP family and foundations voted in favor,” she said.

HP tallied early proxy votes prior to the Tuesday shareholder meeting, Fiorina said, adding that the company expects only a small percentage of votes to trickle in from the day’s voting here.

Official word on the vote is still not expected for “a few weeks,” HP said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. The decision will be revealed by independent vote counting firm IVS Associates Inc.

Before HP claimed victory, lead objector to the deal Walter Hewlett, an HP board member and son of one of HP’s founders, had issued a statement saying he remained optimistic about the vote.

He followed that statement with another taking issue with HP’s declaration of victory. The opposition group stands by its announcement that the vote is too close to call, Hewlett said, and feels “it is simply impossible to determine the outcome at this time.”