HP taps former SAP chief Apotheker for CEO position

HP appoints former SAP chief Leo Apotheker to fill CEO position vacated by Mark Hurd


HP names former SAP chief Leo Apotheker as its CEO, ending weeks of speculation about who would fill the top seat at the Silicon Valley icon.

HP has a new leader: former SAP chief Leo Apotheker. 

HP broke the news on Thursday, ending weeks of speculation about who would fill the empty CEO position at the Silicon Valley icon. In addition, HP announced that Ray Lane, managing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is joining its board and will serve as non-executive chairman. Both elections are effective November 1.

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Apotheker spent more than 20 years with SAP before abruptly departing in February. 

HP praised Apotheker's long career and said he was "a driving force in making [SAP] the largest business software applications company in the world.""Leo is a strategic thinker with a passion for technology, wide-reaching global experience and proven operational discipline – exactly what we were looking for in a CEO,” HP said in a statement.

Analysts suggest Apotheker’s experience in the software industry may also have been a factor. HP's future lies to some extent in expanding its software portfolio to better compete with IBM and Oracle, said Ray Wang, a partner with technology consulting company Altimeter Group.

"HP needed a tech leader, someone who has run a billion-dollar business, someone who has a global perspective and a software perspective to help the company get more into the software business, and there aren't too many people like that walking the street," Wang said.

Odds were on HP to choose someone from its senior executive ranks. A shortlist of internal CEO candidates included Todd Bradley, who runs HP’s personal systems group; Ann Livermore, who is head of HP’s enterprise business unit; Dave Donatelli, who runs the company’s storage and server business; and Vyomesh Joshi, who runs HP’s printing business.

Industry watchers had expected HP to go with an insider after looking outside for its last two CEOs: Mark Hurd, who spent 25 years at NCR Corporation prior to joining HP in 2005; and Carly Fiorina, who spent nearly 20 years at AT&T and Lucent Technologies before taking the helm at HP in 1999.

Hurd resigned abruptly on August 6 after a scandal involving his relationship with a contractor and expense accounting irregularities.

HP stock took a beating in the days following Hurd’s resignation. The stock dropped from $46.35 just prior to Hurd's departure to hit a 52-week low of $37.32 on Aug. 27. It closed Wednesday at $42.53.

Hurd appears to have recovered more quickly from the scandal than HP’s stock price has. He landed a new gig as co-president at Oracle just weeks after resigning from HP.

Meanwhile, HP has stayed active under CFO and interim CEO Cathie Lesjak, making several acquisitions (at least some of which were in the works before Hurd resigned).

On August 17 the company announced plans to buy Fortify Software, which makes tools to find software vulnerabilities and compliance software. Nine days later the company announced its purchase of Stratavia, which makes database and application automation software. Then on Sept. 13, HP announced plans to purchase security vendor ArcSight for $1.5 billion.

Most recently, HP closed its $2.35 billion merger with 3Par, just weeks after thwarting rival Dell in a bidding war for the storage vendor.

Follow Ann on Twitter: http://twitter.com/annbednarz

The IDG News Service contributed to this report.

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