HP director defends chairman from headhunters

While the knives are out for HP chairman Ray Lane and two fellow board members over their handling of the Autonomy fiasco, it seems that they have found an ally.

Lead independent director Rajiv Gupta called on those shareholders demanding the head of Lane, John Hammergren and Ken Thompson, on a spike to sling their hook.

The calls were sparked by proxy adviser ISS which said that Lane and the two directors should be ousted for their role in the botched acquisition of Autonomy in 2011.

But Gupta said the board has laid a solid foundation for HP’s turnaround and warned that ejecting them would de-stabilise the company.

Losing directors in an abrupt and disorderly manner could undermine efforts to stabilise HP, he claimed.

Gupta is a former CEO of specialty materials maker Rohm & Haas.

He said that HP needs stability and consistency of leadership so that the Board and the management team can devote all of their focus and energy towards executing on the strategic plan.

In other words it does not matter what they did in the past to get into the mess any buck should not stop with them, but be sent to another place where it is quietly forgotten.

Responsibility in corporate life seems to be a phrase long since abandoned apparently what HP needs to sort itself out is a bit of stability with the same clowns who got it into the mess in the first place.

Needless to say Gupta did not mention Autonomy, but instead waved the CV’s of the three as proof that they should be still in a job.

According to Reuters, he highlighted Lane’s global and management experience as former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of software giant Oracle.

After all anyone who worked for Oracle is worth keeping,  they might be able to spot that an SAP clone was not what it claimed to be.

Thompson was formerly chairman and CEO of Wachovia, who was forced out when the outfit suffered heavy losses in its loan portfolios during the subprime mortgage crisis.

Hammergren is chairman and CEO of US drug wholesaler McKesson and was the highest paid CEO in the US in 2011 with total remuneration in excess of $145 million which is a useful skill if you have it.

However while Gupta might be a voice in favour of the status quo, his own head is far from safe.

Glass Lewis, another proxy firm, recommended shareholders vote to remove four directors including the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Gupta with the others.