Hewlett-Packard chairman steps down

HPHewlett-Packard chairman Ray Lane is stepping down, two weeks after he was nearly ousted by shareholders at the company's annual meeting.

Shareholders are upset by a series of mistakes that have damaged the company's share price, including the 8.8 billion dollar (£5.77 billion) write-down on the 10 billion dollar (£6.56 billion) acquisition of business software maker Autonomy in 2011.

At the March 20 annual shareholders meeting, Mr Lane's re-election as director received just 59% support, compared with 96% for Ralph Whitworth, a veteran shareholder activist who will run the board temporarily.

Two other board members targeted by the shareholder revolt decided to resign by the May board meeting. They were John Hammergren, a director since 2005 who got 54% support, and G Kennedy Thompson, a director since 2006 who got 55%.

"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," Mr Lane, 66, said in a statement. He will continue to be a board member.

Meg Whitman, the former eBay head who took over HP as CEO in September 2011, thanked the three men in a statement.

"Their leadership is reflected in the early success we've had turning the company around," she said.

On Thursday, HP shares dipped 5 cents to 22.25 dollars in after-hours trading after closing up 1.8% at 22.30 dollars. The company's stock is nearly two-thirds below its all-time peak of 69 dollars, reached in June 2000.

The company said it will now embark on a search for a permanent non-executive chairman as well as two more independent directors.