Securities and Exchange Commission officials are investigating whether former HP CEO Mark Hurd shared insider information about HP's acquisition of EDS before the deal was completed in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The SEC wants to know whether Hurd shared insider information about the EDS deal with Jodie Fisher, the marketing contractor whose sexual harassment complaint against Hurd led to his forced resignation from HP in August, according to the The Wall Street Journal report, which quoted sources familiar with the matter. Authorities are also taking a look at Hurd's expense reporting connected to his work related meetings with Fisher, according to the report.
The SEC investigation stems in part from Fisher's claim, listed in her sexual harassment complaint, that Hurd told her about meeting with an EDS executive prior to the close of HP's $13.9 billion acquisition of the company. Fisher said she didn't trade on the information, but HP's board of directors didn't include her allegation when it announced Hurd's resignation, the New York Times reported Thursday.
HP's internal investigation into Fisher's complaint concluded that Hurd didn't violate the company's sexual harassment policies, but the board asked Hurd to step down after finding that he failed to maintain accurate expense accounts and misused company assets.
Hurd was reportedly upset by how HP handled the matter and news leaks after he left the company, and both Ellison and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch both publicly vilified HP's board for its handling of the issue.
The SEC investigation comes at a time of unprecedented acrimony between HP and Oracle. After Hurd joined Oracle as co-president in September, HP filed a lawsuit Hurd; Oracle CEO Larry Ellison then threatened to haul new HP CEO Leo Apotheker into court during Oracle's recently concluded lawsuit against SAP. Since Hurd's resignation, Oracle-HP has become the tech industry equivalent of the Hatfield–McCoy feud.
HP says it's "cooperating fully with the SEC on its investigation," while the SEC and Oracle declined to comment in The Wall Street Journal report.
"Mark acted properly in all respects," Glenn Bunting, a spokesman for Hurd, told The Wall Street Journal Tuesday. "It is understandable that the SEC is looking into the events surrounding Mark's departure, which was followed by a precipitous drop in the value of HP's stock."