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Fiorina rules out consulting buy

Purse stays in handbag

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Having swallowed Compaq in an $18 billion merger, HP is in no mood to go shopping. Asked this week if the company eyed a consulting or services target, CEO Carly Fiorina said that her purse will remain tucked away in her handbag.

"Would I buy EDS? Would I buy a big consulting company? I have been offered many opportunities to do both. I have walked away from them every time," she said.

HP's services business is going gangbusters, notching up 20 per cent growth in the past year. Last week, Fiorina claimed that she'd been in a position to acquire PriceWaterhouseCooper eight times, but turned them down each go.

That said, they came pretty close. HP agreed to a price of $17.5 billion - approximately what it paid for Compaq - for PwC, which was then also serving as its accountant. PwC Consulting split from the parent company, endured a short and disastrous rebranding exercise and was eventually snapped up last July for $3.7 billion, although the cost to IBM has risen since then.

So rather than buy a consulting company, she's opted for the much cheaper route of talking a lot of consulting jargon.

Hailing HP's new "horizontal paradigm", at the Gartner symposium last week, Fiorina touted HP's "collaborative approach... tailored to a customer's ecosystem to create adaptive infrastructures that use leading software products and architectures and leverage HP's own expertise in the creation of adaptive infrastructures".

It was billed as a "clear the air" session. As Carly's most influential business author once said: "One man has understood me, and even he has not." ®

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