Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) said Thursday that Raymond Lane has decided to step down as chairman of the company's board of directors, a move that marks another shake-up in the computer and printer maker's beleaguered board.
Director Ralph Whitworth will become interim chairman, the Palo Alto, California-based company said.
The company said its board is initiating a search for a permanent non-executive chairman.
Lane was appointed executive Chairman in September 2011 after having served as HP's non-executive Chairman since November 2010.
"After reflecting on the stockholder vote last month, I've decided to step down as executive chairman to reduce any distraction from HP's ongoing turnaround," Lane said in a statement.
Lane will remain on the board, but two other directors John Hammergren and G. Kennedy Thompson, will step down after the company's board meeting in May, HP said.
The company's board is commencing a search for two or more new independent directors.
Chairman Lane, Hammergren and Thompson received lower votes compared last year at HP's annual meeting two weeks ago.
Following the resignation of Lane as executive chairman, the role of lead independent director, currently held by Rajiv Gupta, is no longer necessary and will be eliminated, HP said. Gupta, however, will remain on the board.
Lane has been under fire from shareholders for his role in HP's botched, $11 billion acquisition of U.K. software firm Autonomy Corp. in 2011. HP incurred a non-cash impairment charge of $8.8 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 relating to the Autonomy acquisition. HP had claimed that majority of the impairment charge was linked to serious accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures by Autonomy.
HP's board has witnessed several shake-ups and faced regular criticism in the past decade. The company's directors came under scrutiny over a spying scandal in 2006 that prompted the then Chairman Patricia Dunn to resign.
HP's board was also severely criticized following the ouster of former CEO Mark Hurd and the appointment of his successor Leo Apotheker in 2010.
HP shares, which traded in a range of $11.35 to $25.40 over the past year, closed Thursday's regular trading session at $22.30, up 39 cents or 1.78%. The stock is currently losing 0.22% in after hours trading.
by RTT Staff Writer
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