Oregon HP employees say ‘no’

A two-to-one majority of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) employees in the Corvallis, Ore., area oppose the company’s proposed takeover of Compaq Computer Corp., a survey commissioned by David Packard, has found.

Employees in the Corvallis area, home to part of HP’s printing and imaging business, oppose the merger by 63 per cent to 31 per cent, while former employees in the area are against it by 59 per cent to 20 per cent, according to the survey released on Wednesday. HP employs 4,700 people in Oregon.

Research firm Field Research Corp. conducted the telephone poll of 445 current and 226 former HP employees over a five-day period ending Feb. 18. It represents the latest salvo in the battle by the HP founders’ families against the multibillion-dollar merger spearheaded by HP chief executive officer Carly Fiorina.

Opposition is broad-based, the survey found, and includes longtime employees, new hires, males and females, and spans all age and most job categories. Managers form the only subgroup in which more people support than oppose the acquisition. Forty eight per cent said they support the move, while 43 per cent is opposed. The remainder opted not to take a stance.

The most common reasons given for opposition to the merger are the belief that a merger would not add value to the company and concerns about Compaq’s profitability. Those in favor of the acquisition say it would make HP stronger and add to the long-term success of the company, according to the survey.

HP shareholders are scheduled to vote on the merger on March 19. Hewlett and Packard family heirs plus related organizations control close to 18 per cent of HP stock and have announced they plan to vote against the merger. A number of large institutional investors, however, said they are optimistic about the deal and plan to vote in favor of the merger.

The European Commission has approved the merger, as have Canadian regulators. The two companies, however, are still awaiting approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The current employee sampling has a margin of error of five percentage points and that of the former employees about six percentage points, according to Field Research.

HP was not immediately available for comment.

HP, in Palo Alto, Calif., is at http://www.hp.com/