Report: New HP Board Members Closely Linked To CEO Apotheker

Hewlett Packard's five newly appointed board members all have close business connections with HP CEO Leo Apotheker, and this is raising questions about their ability to make objective decisions, according to a Thursday report from Bloomberg.

As noted by Bloomberg, Apotheker is under scrutiny because of his close ties with four of the five new board members. Former GE CIO Gary Reiner, former Alcatel-Lucent CEO Patricia Russo, and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman were SAP customers during Apotheker's twelve-year tenure at the company, while Dominique Senequier, CEO of Paris-based AXA Private Equity, is a fellow board member at Schneider Electric SA. Apotheker is also a board member of AXA SA, parent company of AXA Private Equity.

HP's board took the brunt of shareholder anger in the wake of Mark Hurd's resignation last August after an internal sexual harassment found he'd violated the company's Code Of Conduct in the course of his dealings with HP marketing contractor Jodie Fisher.

HP's board is still facing a class action lawsuit from shareholders over the $12 million in severance Hurd received, and the board reshuffle is widely viewed as HP's bid to break with the past and bring in new experience in areas like networking, e-commerce and finance.

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"The addition of these new directors will further diversify the outstanding talents and wide-ranging experience that our directors already bring to HP," said Raymond J. Lane, non-executive chairman of HP's board of directors, in a statement last week.

The departing HP board directors are: Lucille Salhany, former Fox broadcasting chief; John Joyce, former head of IBM Global Services; Robert Ryan, the HP board's lead independent director from September 2008 to October 2010; and Joel Hyatt, vice chairman of cable and satellite television firm Current Media.

"These directors worked tirelessly and effectively to navigate HP through a difficult leadership change in the last six months," Lane said last week in a statement.