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HP cans Blackmore in hardware biz shakeup

Saving face

HP's smooth-talking hardware chief Peter Blackmore has been axed along with two other senior staffers, as the company tries to deal with a poor third quarter.

Blackmore had served as HP's EVP in charge of the Customer Solutions Group - a unit meant to manage direct sales to enterprise customers. The executive came to HP in the Compaq acquisition. He worked in a number of high-profile roles for both companies, overseeing their services and hardware businesses. Mike Winkler, another ex-Compaq worker, will replace Blackmore and keep his current role as chief marketing officer.

Jim Milton, an SVP in the Customer Solutions Group and managing director of the Americas region, has also been sent packing. He's been replaced by Jack Novia, SVP and GM of HP's Technology Solutions Group. Kasper Rorsted, another SVP and managing director of the EMEA region, will depart and be replaced by Bernard Meric, a SVP in HP's EMEA Imaging and Printing group.

"We thank Peter, Jim, and Kasper for their years of service and dedication," CEO Carly Fiorina said in a memo leaked to the press.

These moves come after HP missed analysts' third quarter estimates by a long shot and announced that failings in its server and storage businesses had cost the company millions. HP rushed the Q3 earnings announcement out a week ahead of time, as it felt a need to give investors the bad news.

Blackmore is by far the biggest head to roll in these layoffs. He stood by Fiorina time and again defending the Compaq acquisition. He also had to endure months of bad press as HP's hardware business struggled to return to profitability. But no matter how bad HP's server business looked at the time, Blackmore always had a comforting phrase for analysts and the press.

While charming to some degree, Blackmore's soothing words often failed to address the serious concerns facing HP such as its difficult transition to Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor and struggles competing against IBM and EMC in storage. But, we're sure an industry veteran of his stature will end up somewhere cushy and nice. ®

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