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HP board blackballs Walter

'Lack of candour and issues of trust'

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Hewlett-Packard has dropped dissident director Walter Hewlett from the list of candidates up for re-election to its board.

In a strongly-worded statement, HP said: "The board's decision not to nominate Walter Hewlett is based on his ongoing adversarial relationship with the company, as evidenced by his recent litigation against HP, as well as concerns about his lack of candour and issues of trust."

Walter Hewlett, son of HP co-founder Bill Hewlett, has led the battle against HP's merger with Compaq. Last week, he filed a lawsuit alleging impropriety in how the IT giant solicited votes from institutional shareholders prior to a crucial vote on the merger.

Sam Ginn, chairman of the board's nominating and governance committee, met Hewlett after the shareholder meeting to build bridges. After this meeting the board had planned to recommend Hewlett's re-nomination.

That changed when Hewlett filed a "spurious" lawsuit against the company hours after the meeting, according to HP.

Hewlett, who has served on HP's board for 15 years, has defended his actions and expressed regret that he will no longer be able to serve on the IT giant's board.

"It is unfortunate that the HP board has seemingly missed what the company's stockholders have clearly recognised: that dissent is not disloyalty, that healthy boards need not agree on every issue," he said.

HP's 2002 annual meeting will take place on April 26 at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California. During the meeting shareholders will vote to approve the re-election of board members to HP. If the merger with Compaq completes prior to the meeting, they will also be invited to rubber stamp the appointments of former Compaq executives to the combined board. ®

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