HP Sued for Vote Pressure
Although Hewlett-Packard Co. is pressing on with its integration plans for Compaq Computer Corp., issues surrounding the proposed buyout are far from settled.Although Hewlett-Packard Co. is pressing on with its integration plans for Compaq Computer Corp., issues surrounding the proposed buyout are far from settled. In addition to the fact that the official HP shareholder vote has not been tallied, HP board member Walter Hewlett, the most vocal opponent of the acquisition, late last week filed a lawsuit accusing HP officials of improperly pressuring a large shareholder into voting for the controversial $19 billion merger. Hewlett said in his suit, filed in Delaware, that Deutsche Asset Management, a division of Deutsche Bank AG, HPs 11th-largest institutional shareholder, was "led to understand that if it did not switch votes in favor of the proposed merger, its future dealings with HP would be jeopardized."
As a result, the suit claims, Deutsche Bank changed its vote March 19, shortly before the start of HPs special shareholder meeting, voting 17 million of its 25 million shares in support of the merger. HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., "tainted more than enough votes to swing the election in favor of the merger," said the lawsuit.