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HP may NOT spin off PC biz

'We just decided to screw our share price for a laugh'

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In another world, Mark Hurd is getting out of the shower amid a haze of steam as CEO of HP – the sex pest claims were never made and he is still at the helm of the tech titan.

Such is the fanciful turn of events at HP over the last 13-and-a-bit months, starting with a disgraced Hurd being cleared of sexual harassment but resigning over his conduct, that a Dallas-style backtrack a la Bobby Ewing – recalling a major character from beyond the grave in a dream like sequence – would not seem out of place.

This is just pure fantasy of course, unless HP's board have again reconvened overnight to discuss patching up with Hurd, now co-president at Oracle, which seems highly unlikely in spite of its recent horrible history.

HP's board of directors are, however, considering divorce proceedings with current CEO Leo Apotheker, who only put the ring on his finger last November, and according to reports from Bloomberg, they are also now thinking seriously about not spinning off the Personal Systems Group.

Sources close to members of the board were cited as saying that getting rid of the PC unit was not as well thought through as initially believed.

No such reprieve will be given to the webOS hardware unit – also part of the shocking 18 August announcement – as staff are being laid off, while the acquisition of Autonomy remains far from certain despite the hefty offer made by HP.

Investors will no doubt be pinching themselves, hoping to wake up from a financial nightmare that Apotheker sparked following last month's announcement, after which the share price plummeted by 20 per cent.

During Apotheker's tenure at HP, the share price has fallen by 47 per cent.

HP is already facing one lawsuit by a shareholder seeking damages for the dive in stock values and this rollercoaster saga of will-they-or-won't-they spin off PSG will hardly give rise to confidence among Wall Street analysts that its direction is certain.

Meanwhile, uncertainty among some customers, no doubt amplified by rivals, will also linger. ®

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