HP may farm out Fiorina’s job duties, says report

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board of directors is considering a plan that would redistribute some of the day-to-day responsibilities of its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carly Fiorina to other HP executives, due in part to the board’s displeasure with the company’s uneven performance, according to a report published Monday.

Rather than seeking to undermine Fiorina, the board believes that by giving three senior executives more authority, it would enable HP to respond more quickly to customer demands and the increased competition it faces from industry players such as Dell Inc., according to a report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The Journal article doesn’t name any sources, only citing “people familiar with the situation.”

Along with considering the management reorganization during its annual planning meeting, the board also formally asked Thomas Perkins to rejoin the board on Jan. 12, the report said. Perkins left his seat on the HP board last year and works as a venture capitalist for the company he co-founded, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The HP board meeting was held sometime between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 at the San Francisco Park Hyatt Hotel, the WSJ said.

The three HP executives who would be granted more control are Vyomesh Joshi, who leads HP’s printing and personal-computing division; Ann Livermore, head of services and enterprise computing; and Shane Robison, the chief technology and strategy officer, the report said. Fiorina, seen by the board as overly “hands on” but who remains popular, agreed with directors on the management reorganization after initially resisting the changes, the WSJ said.

Fiorina has been willing to shake up HP’s organizational structure in the past. Less than two weeks ago, on Jan. 14, Joshi was named as the head of a newly combined printing and PC unit. In November, Fiorina announced that changes would be made in the PC and server divisions in an effort to improve profits within the groups.

In 2003, the CEO oversaw a similar revivification of the HP enterprise systems group and the HP services group, by combining the divisions and putting Livermore in charge of the newly created group.

Joshi, who previously ran the server division for a number of years, would under the new plan be given increased decision-making authority in the printer-and-PC group, the report said. The details of the redefined roles for Livermore and Robison are still being hammered out, the WSJ said.

HP released a statement about the report on Monday, declining to comment further. “Boards discuss a wide range of topics consistent with their fiduciary responsibilities, and any speculation about these discussions is just that — pure speculation. While the board did discuss structural changes at its recent meeting, these were announced on Friday, Jan. 14. There are no other senior changes due in the near future,” said Robert Sherbin, vice-president of media relations for HP.

Tom Krazit in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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