HP reportedly plans to hive off PCs and printers and split itself in two

The computer giant will continue as an enterprise supplier while a second company will contain the PC and printer businesses.

Hewlett-Packard plans to split into two companies, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which cites unnamed "people familiar with the matter."

One company would include the PC and printer businesses, while the other would hold the enterprise hardware and services businesses.

The split will be effected by giving HP shareholders shares in the new PC and printer company next year.

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Dion Weisler, an HP executive formerly of Lenovo, is tipped to run the new company. Image: HP

HP's boss, Meg Whitman, will continue as CEO of the enterprise-based HP while becoming chairman of the PC and printer company. The latter will have Dion Weisler, a current HP executive hired from Lenovo, as CEO.

The report doesn't say what the new company will be called, but it would be a severe blow to its prospects if it didn't include the established HP initials.

HP previously toyed with the idea of spinning off the PC business in 2011 when its then CEO Léo Apotheker bought the British software company, Autonomy Corp.

Apotheker was driven out a few months later and the idea was shelved.

The PC and printer businesses represent about half HP's annual turnover, and pulled in $55.9 billion in revenue in fiscal 2013, according to the WSJ. Its sales fell by 7.1 percent in competition with Lenovo in a tough PC market. However, HP's total revenues fell by 6.7 percent, so the PC and printer businesses didn't do particularly badly.

It's not clear why the idea has resurfaced now. However, IBM has shed its PC division and its x86 server business — both of which went to China's Lenovo — and HP is trying to compete with IBM in the enterprise market.

Whitman could be hoping for a boost in the HP share price that will come from being seen as an enterprise supplier rather than as a PC supplier. HP is only worth about $66 billion.

IBM, which has a lower turnover, is worth $188bn.

HP shares most recently peaked at $54 in 2010 before slumping to $12 late last year. They have since recovered to $35, but have not yet made up the ground they lost after former CEO Mark Hurd was ousted in August 2010.

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