HP sacked worker after info leak

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has terminated the employment of a worker who admitted leaking two company memos to the media in violation of company policy, according to an internal e-mail passed to journalists.

The company is continuing its investigation into unauthorized distribution of confidential company information, according to the e-mail, which was sent to HP employees by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina on Wednesday.

As part of this investigation, HP has also determined that a voice mail message from Fiorina to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bob Wayman leaked to the press was most likely intercepted from Wayman's home or cell phone, or through unauthorized use of his voice mail password.

The message was not forwarded from within the HP voice mail system, according to Fiorina's Wednesday e-mail. In the voice mail, Fiorina suggested that HP "may have to do something extraordinary" to win the support of Deutsche Bank AG for the proxy vote on the merger with Compaq Computer Corp.

HP will overcome obstacles standing in the way of the merger, Fiorina told staff in Wednesday's e-mail. Company representatives will testify next week in Delaware Chancery Court that the campaign for proxy votes was conducted fairly. Dissident director Walter Hewlett filed a lawsuit there alleging that the company had coerced Deutsche Asset Management Inc., a division of Deutsche Bank, to switch sides in the vote. The trial begins April 23.

The company is also cooperating with inquiries into the same matter by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York and by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Neither enquiry is expected to delay the merger, Fiorina said.

Fiorina also took the opportunity to tell employees that HP shareholders had voted to support the merger with Compaq in the March 19 proxy vote by approximately 837.9 million votes to 792.6 million, with an insignificant number of votes unresolved, according to a preliminary tally provided by an independent election inspector. Around two-thirds of shares not affiliated with the Hewlett and Packard families voted in favor of the merger, she said in the e-mail.

Although merger opponents may yet demand a recount of the votes, which would take about a week, or challenge the final tally, delaying things by a day or two, Fiorina said in the e-mail, she is optimistic that the merger will still close on schedule and the new company launch in early May.

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