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HP boss Meg Whitman shuffles exec pawns just before biz splits

CEO aims to 'minimise disruption' of PC and printer break out while rivals sneer

HP CEO Meg Whitman has outlined a management re-org to steer the business toward an eventual split into two separate Fortune 50 firms, according to an internal memo seen by El Chan.

The Palo Alto-based company is consciously uncoupling, with the Printing and Personal Systems (PPS) division set to become HP Inc, and the server, storage, networking, services and software units reforming as Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE).

The process is estimated to take until next October, with Whitman set to become CEO of HPE and non-exec chairman at HP Inc.

Whitman told staff in the mail that HP’s “separation management process” needs to be “thoughtful and transparent” so as to “minimise disruption to customers, partners, and employees”.

With these issues top of mind, she said she is turning to her top brass to grasp the nettle and make sure things run according to plan.

Enterprise Group (EG) executive veep Bill Veghte will lead a team including services head Mike Nefkens and software boss Robert Youngjohns to “hone and advance our enterprise strategy and catalyse our efforts for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.”

“While I will be closely involved in the key decisions that will shape the future of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, this team effort led by Bill will allow me to have the flexibility I need to run the current business through next year and assist Dion Weisler with the creation of HP Inc," said Whitman.

Antonio Neri, senior veep and GM for HP Server and Networking will be elevated to “leader” of EG, though he will continue to report to Veghte. Chris Hsu, senior veep of operational performance will manage the overall “separation process and work streams” for HPE.

Whitman said a major element of dividing HP into two publicly traded entities is “disentangling the existing corporate structure and reconstituting support for two new companies. This includes finance, tax, contracts, and legal entity separation efforts.”

The memo further revealed Jim Murrin, senior veep and COO for EG will serve as Corporate Separation Management Office (SMO) leader, reporting to Whitman, to “drive important decisions around the financial and operational imperatives required for a successful separation”.

Over at the PPS division, global boss Dion Weisler has signed up HP 25-year vet Enrique Lores, senior veep for Business Personal Systems to head up the Separation Management Office for HP Inc.

As a result, Weisler has decided to merge the Consumer and Business Personal Systems groups, placing them under the grip of Ron Coughlin, senior veep of Personal Systems.

The inkjet, graphics and laser print businesses will be combined under Stephen Nigro, senior veep for printing. Pradeep Jotwani will continue as leader for the Laser Enterprise Systems group, and report to Wesiler in a new role “driving strategic corporate development” for HP Inc.

Whitman said “it is critically important that we deliver on our commitment for FY 15 while at the same time preparing for the separation of our company.”

An HP spokeswoman sent us a statement:

“As part of our announced separation plan to create two new Fortune 50 companies we have a comprehensive plan in place to ensure that we execute a successful separation with minimal disruption to the business”.

Rivals have already tried to talk up any uncertainty that may emerge during the de-merger, with Dell claiming HP’s break-up is “complex, distracting and appears to benefit HP and its shareholders more than its customers”.

Channel partners previously told us they want a slick execution from HP and no navel gazing. ®

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