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HP-Compaq: It's a family affair

The Hewletts, the Packards and Carly Fiorina's legacy...
Written by Kate Hanaghan, Contributor

The Hewletts, the Packards and Carly Fiorina's legacy...

So the Hewletts and the Packards aren't happy with Fiorina's plans for their company. Time to panic? Well, yes - maybe. It's likely that Carly is finding it harder to get a good night's sleep since relatives of the founders expressed their opposition to the merger with Compaq. The family members - firstly the Hewletts followed today by a Packard - are understandably concerned about the fortune they have tied up in shares. They reckon the deal will further expose HP to an already weak PC market - a stance that echoes the viewpoint of some analysts. Fiorina has faced opposition to the deal since it was announced in September. But the difference this time round is that the involvement of the family name draws into question Fiorina's intentions to return HP - through its Invent strategy - to the original values of the company Bill and Dave first founded. David Packard junior told the San Jose Mercury: "Bill and Dave never developed a premeditated business strategy that treated HP employees as expendable," he said. This hits at the very heart of the strategy Carly has been pushing since she came on board. Packard has questioned her ability to maintain the company's tradition of the promise of long-term employment for staff. Thousands of jobs will be axed if the merger goes ahead. Some analysts are now suggesting the likelihood of the deal surviving is less than 50/50. The issue has now become personal - but not just for the founders' families. Last week Fiorina said: "I think the company's success will be my legacy and the company's failure will be my failure, with all the predictable consequences of that." The collapse of the PWC deal was a bitter pill to swallow, but this spells deep trouble for Fiorina. Her career rides on the outcome of this spat.
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