Former executives from Microsoft and McDonald’s join board of Hewlett-Packard

 Hewlett-Packard chief executive  Meg Whitman   at the  annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley Resort  in Idaho last week.  Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman at the annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho last week. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

 

Hewlett-Packard has appointed three big-name directors, including former Microsoft software chief Raymond Ozzie and former McDonald’s chief executive James Skinner, as it looks to beef up its board.

The PC maker, which has been trying to strengthen its board after years of leadership calamities, said it was still searching for more directors. It is also looking for a permanent non-executive chairman to succeed Ralph Whitworth, who holds the position on an interim basis. Yesterday’s appointments increase the size of HP’s board to 12 from nine.

Chief executive officer Meg Whitman is trying to turn around HP’s operations, while Mr Whitworth, who heads activist hedge fund Relational Investors, promised board changes when he took the job in April.

Former chairman Ray Lane resigned after he came under fire from shareholders for his role in HP’s disastrous acquisition of British software company Autonomy.

The leadership of HP has been in tumult since the departure in 2010 of chief executive Mark Hurd over allegations of sexual harassment, which he has denied.

Ms Whitman took the top job in September 2011 after predecessor Leo Apotheker’s brief stint, which was marked by slashed earnings forecasts and a plunge in the company’s share price.

In 2012, HP had to take a multibillion-dollar writedown for its takeover of Autonomy, enraging investors. The deal capped a tumultuous decade for the company that included the 2006 “pretexting” scandal, which led to the resignation of chairwoman Patricia Dunn.

The appointment of well- known directors to HP’s board appeared to be an effort to answer shareholders’ long-standing cries for a stronger board.

HP also appointed Robert Bennett, former chief executive of Liberty Media, as a director. He will join the finance and investment committee and its audit committee. – (Reuters)