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This is getting serious: a leading member of the Packard family is "likely" to vote against the proposed Hewlett-Packard takeover of Compaq, adding another 1.3 per cent to the "No" camp.

Yesterday, the Hewlett family, holders of 5 per cent of HP, announced its intention to vote against the takeover.

David W. Packard, son of co-founder David Packard, and chair of the Packard Humanities Institute, expressed concerns about the direction of the company in an interview with Mercury News.

"Bill (HP co-founder William Hewlett) and Dave never developed a premeditated business strategy that treated HP employees as expendable," he said.

Packard Junior told the paper that he did not speak for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which holds 10.4 per cent of HP's stock. However, as the chair of this foundation is called Susan Packard Orr, and as Susan also sits on the board of the Packard Humanities Institute, the auguries look poor for the HP board.

The Hewlett and Packard families together control 17 per cent of the stock of HP. Without their support, it looks increasingly difficult for HP to pull off the Compaq takeover. The price of this failure will be the head of Princess Fiorina. And very vulnerable-looking Compaq. ®

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