HP explores acquisition market, targets smaller deals

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman says she is in the market for acquisition opportunities of up to $1.5 billion.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Credit: HP

Meg Whitman, CEO of PC maker Hewlett-Packard, says that the company is back in the market for acquisitions of up to $1.5 billion.

In an interview Thursday, Whitman said the company is specifically seeking smaller deals, as reported by Reuters. Instead of focusing on large-scale acquisitions reaching figures in the billions, the Palo Alto, California-based firm is in the market for deals potentially worth between $100 million to $300 million -- or as high as $1.5 billion.

Whitman said in the interview with business channel CNBC:

"We have our eye on a number of areas. Acquisitions will become part of our future, to further some of our strategic initiatives and shore up some of the product holes.

We don't need a five or six billion dollar acquisition. I think there are acquisitions in the $100 million, $300 million range, maybe some up to 1 to $1.5 billion that we might be interested in."

While not elaborating on particular targets, the HP executive said that as the firm "can go from devices to infrastructure to services to software" easily, valuable acquisitions could help the PC maker stay competitive in today's marketplace.

Hewlett-Packard has spent vast amounts in acquisition deals over the past few years. However, not all of HP's ventures have been successful, as proved by the acquisition of big-data analytics firm Autonomy in 2011. The deal quickly went sour when HP was required to write down $8.8 billion in its software unit, and accused Autonomy of "serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and outright misrepresentations."

During the conference call, Whitman said:

"We will be incredibly measured and disciplined. We are very mindful of the event that we just came off with Autonomy, so don't worry about that. As we see these big tectonic plate shifts, there's no question that acquisitions are going to have to be a part of how we turn this Company around."

Whitman recently admitted that the company's fiscal outlook is going to suffer during the company's current reorganization efforts, describing 2013 as HP's "fix and rebuild year." The executive said that "total company year-over-year revenue growth in fiscal 2014 is unlikely."

Hewlett-Packard's reshuffling efforts include moving around executives, merging its marketing and communications teams, and giving Dave Donatelli -- executive vice president and general manager of the enterprise group -- a new role focusing on identifying early-stage companies with new, innovative technologies on offer.

The PC maker plans to grow its networking business in China, and improve enterprise service and software profitability in the coming year.

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