Whitman Faces Questions About Death Of HP-EMC Merger Talks

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman declined to address reports that merger talks between HP and storage stalwart EMC have been called off when pressed on the topic Wednesday during an on-stage interview at The Channel Company's 2014 Best of Breed conference in Orlando, Fla.

When asked by The Channel Company CEO Robert Faletra if she could comment on reports that HP's talks with EMC had come to a halt, Whitman answered, "No."

She continued on, however, to say that companies like HP need to move more quickly and explore new options in order to compete in today's ultra-fast-paced IT landscape.

Related: HP-EMC Merger Is Off The Table

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"What I can tell you is this industry is changing as fast as I've ever seen anything change in my entire 35-year career," Whitman said. "So the ability to move, to be agile, to be super fast -- and I'm sure you are going to want to ask about the separation -- but you have to position your company [that way],’ she said, referencing HP’s plan unveiled last week to split itself into two separate companies.

"Whether you are HP, or any of the companies that you all run or own out there, I think change is more constant that it has ever been," Whitman continued. "We just have to be nimble and fleet of foot, and be willing to think about things that you might not have thought about before."

The end of the HP-EMC merger discussions was reported first by Reuters early Wednesday. While HP did not directly confirm the talks or that they have ended, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said Wednesday it is resuming its share repurchase program, as it is no longer in possession of "material nonpublic information."

HP stopped its share repurchase program about a week ago because it was holding this nonpublic information, fueling speculation that its talks with EMC were progressing.

Ron Dupler, CEO of GreenPages Technology Solutions, a Kittery, Maine-based solution provider and No. 151 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, said he is "glad that the deal is off the table."

"I thought it would be a strange marriage," Dupler said. "We work with both companies closely and prefer to work with them separately."

Dupler said HP and EMC have dramatically different cultures and it would have been a stretch to combine them. ’It would have been a real challenge bringing these companies together," he said.

Sources told Reuters that the HP-EMC talks dissolved because the two companies couldn't come to an agreement on price. Discussion between the two companies had reportedly been held for months.

HP shares jumped 1.61 percent on the news Wednesday morning to $32.76.

STEVEN BURKE contributed to this story.