HP re-elects ‘AWOL’ Disney man

Conflict of interest

California's influential public employees' pension fund CalPERS flexed its muscles again today, but failed in its bid to shake up the Hewlett Packard board. A statement by the United States' largest pension fund decision that it had "lost complete confidence" in Disney CEO Michael Eisner was instrumental in the recent decision to strip him of his Chairman role.

Now another Disney man has survived the CalPERS axe. The fund, which is a large HP shareholder, voted to not to re-elect attorney Sandy Litvack and four other directors on the HP board, citing conflicts of interest. The five also serve on the board of the HP audit committee and CalPERS doesn't approve of auditors performing non-auditing tasks for a corporation. HP allows its auditor Ernst & Young to perform multiple roles.

Last year CalPERS, also an AOL shareholder, voted against the re-election of five AOL directors, including Netscape veteran Jim Barksdale, ofr the same reason. Coincidentally, the auditor in that instance was also Ernst & Young.

The giant pension fund has in the past supported the election of "dissident" directors, elected to report back to unhappy shareholders on the state of the corporation.

CalPERS also singled out Litvack, Disney's senior general counsel from 1991 to 1998, for poor attendance. He's certainly a busy fellow. HP shareholders in Houston today decided to re-elect the five. The fund's corporate governance principles can be found here ®

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