HP chairman Lane steps down

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HP chairman Lane steps down
Ray Lane

Interim replacement announced.

HP chairman Ray Lane, who has come under fire from shareholders for his role in the acquisition of software company Autonomy, has stepped down from the company.

The move formed part of a shake-up which will usher in two to three new board members.

Director and activist investor Ralph Whitworth will become interim chairman until a permanent replacement is found.

The action comes weeks after the Kleiner Perkins managing partner, who will remain a director, narrowly won re-election at the HP's annual shareholders' meeting with less than 60 percent of voting shares, compared with 96 percent a year ago.

Two other directors who kept their seats with narrow margins, G. Kennedy Thompson and John Hammergren, will exit the board, leaving the company looking for two to three new, independent replacements.

Lane is one of the most prominent casualties of an acquisition that has incensed investors, who have publicly chastised the company for paying $US11 billion for Autonomy and for failing to conduct proper due diligence. HP eventually swallowed a multi-billion dollar writedown on the asset's value.

"After reflecting on the stockholder vote last month, I've decided to step down as executive chairman to reduce any distraction from HP's ongoing turnaround," Lane said in statement.

"Since I joined HP's board a little over two years ago, I've been committed to board evolution to ensure our turnaround and future success."

Whitworth had told shareholders at the March meeting to prepare for an "evolution" of the board.

The upheaval comes as HP and CEO Meg Whitman are undertaking a multi-year turnaround to stimulate growth at the company, which was once synonymous with Silicon Valley but has since stagnated as its personal computer and printer business declined.

Whitman has asked investors to be patient while the company undertakes layoffs and cost cutting, and expands into areas with longer-term potential, such as enterprise computing services.

HP shares fell to $US22.10 in after-hours trade, from their close of $US22.30 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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