HP’s odd scandal: A CEO, an actress, and no sex

HP stock sinks amid scandal
Hewlett-Packard Co. stock tumbled about 8 per cent today, closing at $42.60 (U.S.), in the wake of the stunning resignation Friday of chief executive officer Mark Hurd. Mr. Hurd, seen as a strong hand on the tiller of the computer giant he turned around, quit after allegations of improper expense claims filed amid an undisclosed relationship with a former contractor. The probe of Mr. Hurd by the company began with accusations from the contractor of sexual harassment and ended with the company determining Mr. Hurd didn’t violate its sexual harassment policy but broke its rules of conduct and irreparably harmed his credibility and integrity.

The former contractor, Jodie Fisher, came forward on the weekend in a statement from her lawyer, saying she was “surprised and saddened that Mark lost his job over this” and that “that was never my intention.” Like Mr. Hurd, Ms. Fisher, 50, a one-time reality TV contestant who became a marketing consultant for HP, said there was no sexual relationship between the two. According to The New York Times, HP has said Mr. Hurd approved paying her $1,000 to $10,000 per event at summits. These events at times included customers, and Mr. Hurd would speak. Other reports said she was paid up to $5,000 to greet executives attending HP events she helped organize.

“At HP, I was under contract to work at high-level customer and executive summit events held around the country and abroad,” Ms. Fisher said in the statement. “I prepared for those events, worked very hard and enjoyed working for HP.”

2007 Getty Images

Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd

It was after the company stopped such events that Ms. Fisher claimed sexual harassment, the newspaper said. Mr. Hurd, according to one of the newspaper’s sources, had no romantic involvement with Ms. Fisher but enjoyed her company.

Mr. Hurd, says the business expenses were legitimate, but said in a statement Friday that “as the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career.”

There are big questions now because there’s no succession plan, given the nature of Mr. Hurd’s departure, and the company is searing for a new CEO. Interim CEO Cathie Lesjak said yesterday that HP is “moving through the transition period as quickly as possible.”

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Source: The Globe And Mail

HP’s odd scandal: A CEO, an actress, and no sex

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