Did pillow talk buy Mark Hurd an SEC beef?

SEC reportedly investigating former HP CEO

The waters keep getting choppier for former HP boss Mark Hurd, and by extension, his new employer, Oracle.

First there were was the legal nastiness between the two companies. Now the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the possibility that Hurd shared inside information with the woman whose allegations of impropriety were at the heart of his forced departure from HP.

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From a Wall Street Journal report yesterday:

Federal regulators are investigating Mark Hurd's departure from Hewlett-Packard Co., in a broad inquiry that includes an examination of a claim the former chief executive shared inside information, people familiar with the matter said.

As part of the probe, the Securities and Exchange Commission is checking whether Mr. Hurd passed information about H-P's $13.9 billion acquisition of technology-consulting company Electronic Data Systems Corp. to a former H-P event hostess in 2008, before the deal was announced, the people said.

The alleged recipient of that information was Jodie Fisher, a marketing contractor with whom Hurd had a personal relationship prior to being ousted by HP. According to a story in the New York Times:

She also claimed that Mr. Hurd had told her about a meeting he planned to have with an executive from Electronic Data Systems before H.P. had bought the company, this person said.

Ms. Fisher did not say she traded on the information. Unless she traded on it, or passed the information on to someone who did, Mr. Hurd's disclosure, if it occurred, would not constitute insider trading. The H.P board did not disclose the insider information allegation by Ms. Fisher when it announced Mr. Hurd had resigned.

A spokesman for Hurd tells the Times that there is nothing to see here and that the SEC is just doing its job.

"Mark acted properly in all respects," said David Satterfield, a spokesman for Mr. Hurd. "It is understandable that the S.E.C. is looking into the events surrounding Mark's departure, which was followed by a precipitous drop in the value of H.P.'s stock." H.P.'s share price plummeted 10 percent when Mr. Hurd resigned and has yet to recover.

The same can be said for Hurd's reputation.

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