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Ex-General Electric boss unleashes bile on HP board

'Big mouth' Larry not the only CEO to bitch and moan

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Oracle's Larry Ellison isn’t the only CEO mouthing off at Hewlett-Packard’s decision to hire Leo Apotheker as the company’s replacement for disgraced former boss Mark Hurd. Now Jack Welch, the ex-chief of General Electric, is sticking the boot in, too.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Welch said in New York yesterday at the World Business Forum that HP’s board of directors kept cocking up their top management appointments.

“The Hewlett-Packard board has committed sins over the last 10 years,” Welch said.

“They have not done one of the primary jobs of a board, which is to prepare the next generation of leadership,” he said. He added that developing and nurturing top job talent at the tech giant “was very low on the priority of leadership at that company.”

It's not the first time Welch has poo-poohed HP's board. In 2002 he argued that the company's then-imminent merger with Compaq would be good news for HP's rivals.

"Your competitors want this deal to go through. It will create chaos. They will clean both your clocks while you're doing all this. That's the one argument that rang a bell with me," said Welch at the time.

In August this year, Hurd quit the firm in spectacular fashion, after sexual harassment and puffed up expenses allegations hounded him out the door.

He replaced Carly Fiorina in 2005, who was ousted by the board after it lost faith in her shaky and divisive tenure.

“This [HP] crowd … end up blowing up the CEOs and don’t have anyone else in mind to come in. Where the hell was the leadership development? Who are these board members?” asked Welch.

He added that he wouldn’t publicly “admit” to knowing any of HP’s board members, even if he did. Ouch. ®

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