HP's interim CEO: Board likes CEO candidates; We'll make up with Oracle

HP interim CEO Cathie Lesjak said that the board had a bevy of qualified CEO candidates and noted that it will patch up its relationship with Oracle, which just hired Mark Hurd.

Hewlett-Packard interim CEO Cathie Lesjak on Wednesday said that the company had a bevy of qualified CEO candidates and noted that it will patch up its relationship with Oracle, which just hired Mark Hurd.

In a talk at the Citigroup technology conference, Lesjak, who worked to reassure investor concerns, addressed the key issues swirling around HP: The CEO search, the Oracle relationship and the 3Par acquisition. On finding a new CEO, Lesjak said the search committee is committed to "moving the process through quickly." HP is "actively interviewing" CEO candidates. "We've been very pleased with the selection of candidates. There was some worry that there wouldn't be that many. That certainly hasn't been the issue," said Lesjak.

She added that HP is looking at both internal and external candidates. HP is currently scheduling the candidates to get them through the interview process.

On the Oracle relationship and HP's lawsuit against Mark Hurd, Lesjak said that the company hasn't sued Oracle. "We have sued Mark," she said. "It's important for him to be reminded he signed (confidentiality) agreements," she said.

Alluding to Oracle's response to the Hurd suit, Lesjak was optimistic that HP will patch up what she called a strained relationship. Oracle called HP vindictive and questioned whether the two companies could work together.

"At the end of the day business will prevail. Ultimately we'll go back to being good partners. I believe HP is important to Oracle and Oracle is an important partner of ours," she said.

On the 3Par purchase and whether HP overpaid, Lesjak said she was pleased that HP won the bidding war for the storage provider. She said that 3Par's offerings will add up to the storage cloud, a market expected to grow 40 percent a year.

"It gives us our own IP on the high-end storage market," she explained. "And with higher margins. We think this is going to situate us very well." She added that 3Par gross margins were higher than 60 percent.

Lesjak also said the risk/reward scenario added up for 3Par. She added that HP's winning bid was still below the "walk away price" for the company. "We had a walk away price and believe it will generate more than the cost of capital."

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