When something makes no sense, you have to connect the dots. That's why it's crystal clear to me that HP's board fired Leo Apotheker on September 22 in order to block -- or delay -- Larry Ellison of Oracle (ORCL) from taking a run at HP (HPQ).
Why else would the HP board hire Leo Apotheker as CEO less than a year ago (at the time the recently fired CEO of SAP, not that that was his fault), probably at a big signing bonus (I just don't feel like looking it up), OK HP's exit from the PC business of which it is the market leader, OK his acquisition of the mishmash of antiquated software called Autonomy (AUTN) to get into a market that is literally disappearing, OK his throwing away the value in the Palm acquisition (the acquisition itself happened before Apotheker's arrival), OK a list of other changes that fundamentally changed the world's largest information technology company (to the point that it would no longer be the largest), and then pay him $25 million in severance?
You might think that it is simply that HP's board is the most incompetent set of business people ever assembled. You might think there is clear and convincing evidence now for a true shareholder class action suit. You might think that the Buffett-types on the HP board wanted to help make President Obama's argument against corporate-jet deductions and millionairre salaries.
But it's simpler than that. I take Ray Lane's word for it, as reported by Eric Savitz, that this is a different board than the one that fired Fiona and Hurd and hired Apotheker. This board is smart. It knows that Larry wanted to buy HP so that he could fire Leo on the steps of the court house at the next TomorrowNow trial in downtown Oakland. Now he can't. Bravo!
-- Dennis Byron