HP's Lane defends board: We didn't pick Apotheker

HP's Ray Lane defends the board of directors and said it did operated correctly in the ouster of Leo Apotheker.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

If you want to get HP executive chairman Ray Lane wound up just ask him why there's little confidence in the company's board of directors.

Speaking on a conference call with analysts that served as HP CEO Meg Whitman's coming out party, Lane defended the board, which has been ripped in press reports. Lane was asked about what HP could do to bolster low investor confidence in the board following the Leo Apotheker era and various miscues that went with it.

More: HP CEO Whitman: PC spin-off still in play, Autonomy deal too

Lane said:

Thank you for the question, because I'm going to give you an answer right from my heart, okay? It's going to come right directly from my heart. In January, I added five board members to this board. This is not the board that was around four pre-texting. This is not the board that fired Mark Hurd. This is not the board that did everything the press writes about every day. It's just like open season to write about this board. It's not this board. Okay? This board with and (Ann) Livermore, and Leo (Apotheker), with eight new members this year. Eight people that were here before, you know, last January or November for Leo and myself. Strong individuals , Gary Reiner from GE. I don't have to go through it, CEOs, lots of CEOs. They work really well together. I mean, I watched the executive staff come into the first board meeting and watched the openness, the tough questions. They knew immediately it was a different board. We carefully considered decisions when we make the kinds of -- we are embarrassed about the communications of these decisions that could have been done much better, but we carefully considered the decisions made on August 18 to help augment HP's business. So look, I'm proud of the individuals on this board and the way they work together, and I think the company and the shareholders are well served by this board. It is our operating execution that needs to improve. And we made a decision in Meg Whitman to lead us.

The follow-up question to Lane was why the board has trouble picking leaders. Lane's reply boiled down to: It wasn't us. Lane said:

This board, good or bad---I don't think we ought to be going back in history---did not select Leo. This is a board who objectively evaluated whether he was the right guy to out operate the business. And we came to the conclusion he was not.

As Dennis Howlett noted, Lane may not have picked Apotheker directly, but did give his blessing.

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