Intense Grilling Flusters Fiorina

 
 
By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2002-04-24 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In her second day of testifying in a lawsuit filed by Walter Hewlett, a visibly agitated HP Chairman Carly Fiorina rebuffed allegations that she misled investors by understating potential losses from a Compaq buyout.

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairman Carly Fiorina became visibly agitated on the witness stand today as she continued to rebuff allegations that she misled investors by understating potential losses that could result from the companys $19 billion buyout of Compaq Computer Corp. In her second and final day of testifying in a lawsuit filed by merger foe Walter Hewlett, Fiorina angrily denied assertions she concealed potentially damaging financial reports from shareholders and touted unrealistic optimistic projections of financial benefits. Just as he had done yesterday, Hewlett attorney Stephen Neal repeatedly grilled the chief executive about internal financial reports that predicted larger revenue losses for 2003 than HP projected in publicly issued statements.
Fiorina repeatedly countered that the reports by her "Value Capture Team" offered only a "snapshot" of where business units were at that time and failed to take into account other financial information and economic data.
Fiorina grew increasingly tense as Neal suggested that the unreleased internal reports compiled in February and March offered a far more accurate portrayal of the true costs of the merger, including projecting losses $2 billion higher than HP publicly had forecasted. The chief executives anger flared briefly when Neal asked why the internal reports were not made available to the board of directors. "Youre accusing the CEO of a publicly traded company of lying," she shot back.
"Im just asking you questions," Neal responded. Fiorina again asserted the reports provided an incomplete picture and lacked the more expansive view HP offered in its reports to investors. Hewlett claims that HP executives misled shareholders by not fully disclosing to them the risks of HPs acquisition of Compaq, and that the Palo Alto, Calif., company improperly pressured institutional shareholder Deutsche Bank and its subsidiary, Deutsche Asset Management, to vote for the deal. After testifying for a total of about 7 hours over two days, Fiorina was excused and Hewletts attorneys called Bob Wayman, HPs chief financial officer, to the stand. In early questioning of Wayman, Hewletts attorneys continued to question discrepancies between financial projections made in internal reports and those made available to investors. Related stories:
  • Fiorina Under Fire
  • Hewlett, HP Street Fight Spills into Court
  • HP Says Voters Approved Compaq Buyout
  • Feds Probe HP Coercion Allegations
  • Special Report: HP Courts Compaq
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