HP must keep moving forward, Fiorina says

Carly Fiorina has not softened her position on the proposed merger between Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. If anything, HP’s chief executive officer has become even more combative in the face of criticism from opponents of the merger.

Fiorina began her keynote Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in San Francisco in her typically esoteric way, talking the audience through the history of imaging, from the first drawing through the digital camera, joking that attendees had probably expected to hear a stump speech about the proposed merger.

The joke didn’t last long, however. Fiorina used examples of the integration between HP’s printing and digital camera business as a springboard to discuss “the power of combination” – specifically, the combination of HP and Compaq.

“HP cannot be a company frozen in time,” Fiorina said. “We cannot sustain our company by standing still.”

Throughout her keynote, Fiorina drove home the need for HP to move forward through the proposed merger with Compaq. “There is no future in the status quo,” she said. Fiorina also laid claim to the legacy of HP co-founder Bill Hewlett by quoting him when she proclaimed, “To remain static is to lose ground.”

The proposed merger, which was once valued at as much as US$25 billion, has so far traveled a bumpy road, riddled with obstacles including vocal opposition to the deal from Walter Hewlett, the son of HP’s co-founder and namesake. Family members of co-founder David Packard and the boards of various family trusts have also voiced their opposition to the merger, saying that it would destroy the value of HP’s shares and bury the company in the waning PC market.

Shareholders of the two companies are expected to vote on the merger early this year, although a specific date has not yet been set.

Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co. in Mississauga, Ont., is at http://www.hp.ca