HP CEO Claims Victory in Compaq Buyout

by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

Though the final tally won’t be certified for some time, Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina claimed victory March 19 in her company’s $22 billion effort to buy the Compaq Computer Corp.

It would be the computer industry’s biggest deal ever. The buyout would merge two of the world’s largest and most prominent PC makers, in an effort to become more streamlined and withstand the recent high-tech slowdown and overall drop in PC sales. Hewlett-Packard has about 88,000 employees; Compaq has about 70,000.

Late in the day, after a meeting of about 1,000 HP shareholders in Cupertino, California, Fiorina claimed a slim but sufficient margin,” according to CNN. HP heir Walter Hewlett said that Fiorina’s victory claim was premature and the vote was too close to call.

While Fiorina has championed the merger over recent months, the Hewlett and Packard families, which together control approximately 350 million, or 18 percent of HP shares, have opposed the merger, resulting in a bitter public battle that has played out in front of company shareholders.

Independent firm IVS Associates will validate and certify the vote, which experts say could take as little as a few days or as long as several weeks. Even after the vote tally, a challenge may drag out the result even more.

Compaq shareholders, who will vote on the merger March 20, are expected to approve the deal, partly due to the high price HP will pay for Compaq stock.

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