HP could make more of Compaq acquisition, CEO says

More than two years after completing its buyout of rival Compaq Computer Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has not done enough to take full advantage of the acquisition, according to HP’s chairman and chief executive officer (CEO).

“We are not fully leveraging what we built,” said Carly Fiorina, HP’s chairman and CEO, during a speech in Taipei on Friday.

HP acquired Compaq in 2002 with the purpose of putting together a portfolio of technologies and products, spanning consumer and corporate applications, that would be different from that offered by other vendors, Fiorina said. “Compaq, while it was a huge merger, was a tactic, not a strategy. The challenge now is to leverage what we have built,” Fiorina said.

She did not specify in which areas HP’s business needed improvement or where the company has fallen short of taking advantage of the merger.

Fiorina conceded that she made mistakes during her tenure as HP’s top executive, but said she does not regret the decisions she made. In particular, Fiorina said she should have made certain “people decisions” sooner. She did not elaborate.

Fiorina’s comments that the full potential of the Compaq acquisition have not been realized were most likely in reference to recent problems at HP’s Enterprise Servers and Storage Group.

During a conference call with analysts and journalists in August, Fiorina blamed the management of that group for a series of operational problems that had cost the company an estimated US$400 million in revenue and $275 million in operating profit during its fiscal third quarter.

While Fiorina did not offer names during the August conference call, she promised that management changes would be made immediately. The next day, HP released an e-mail from Fiorina that announced three of the company’s top sales executives had been fired, including Peter Blackmore, the former executive vice-president of HP’s Customer Solutions Group.

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