Report: Fiorina ups merger promotion effort

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carly Fiorina is increasing her efforts to win support for the multibillion-dollar merger with Compaq Computer Corp. that is hanging by a thread after the largest HP shareholder turned against it last week, according to a report published Wednesday.

"We will be even more aggressive about our communication. I have two priorities: to work with the investment community so they understand the benefits of this deal and, second, to run the business," Fiorina told The Wall Street Journal.

Big institutional investors can make or break the merger after the David and Lucile Packard Foundation on Friday joined other HP founder families and related foundations in their opposition of the deal. Together these opponents hold about 18 percent of HP shares outstanding.

Taking a swipe at the HP family members and their foundations, Fiorina said they have concerns that might differ from those of HP and the other investors, such as stability and capital preservation, according to the report.

Fiorina, one of the merger's lead architects, in the interview also repeated that the deal is not about PCs, but about sales of more powerful computing systems and services to large companies. The "new HP" wants to compete head-to-head against IBM Corp.'s Global Services businesses and consulting firms such as Accenture.

HP and Compaq also have not had the chance to fully detail their merger plans because of pending regulatory approval. The companies may have to shed some of their activities to be allowed to merge, preventing them from painting a clear picture of what the new HP will look like, Fiorina told the newspaper.

The interview comes a day after Compaq CEO Michael Capellas stated that he supports the deal with HP, but that his company does have a contingency plan in place should the merger fall through. Capellas, in a widely publicized memo to his employees on Friday, said that Compaq on its own could meet the goals of the merger.

HP will launch a "full road show" in January to persuade investors to vote in favor of the merger, according to HP Chief Financial Officer Robert Wayman, cited in The Wall Street Journal.

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Joris Evers

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