Ralph Whitworth, the founder of Relational
Investors, has been named interim chairman of Hewlett-Packard
As Ray Lane relinquishes the chairmanship of
Hewlett-Packard’s board, the computer company is turning to a seasoned
activist hedge fund manager to oversee the company’s directors temporarily.
Ralph V. Whitworth, who became H.P.’s interim
chairman on Thursday,
joined the board in late 2011 after amassing a sizable stake in the
company. Rather than risk a fight, H.P. elected to give him a seat and
assignments on its investment and compensation committees.
It was only the latest victory for Mr. Whitworth,
who began his investing career as a top lieutenant to
T. Boone Pickens. Since founding
Investors in 1996, he has established a reputation as a top-ranking
activist hedge fund manager who often gains board seats.
Last year, Relational disclosed that it owned a
PepsiCo. The two sides had what a Pepsi spokesman
described at the time as “constructive meetings,” though investors
speculated whether Mr. Whitworth had contemplated agitating for a breakup of
the food giant.
At H.P., Mr. Whitworth was tasked with leading an
independent investigation into the company’s disastrous acquisition of
Autonomy, since he was the only director not on the board at the time of the
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