Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Hewlett-Packard General Counsel Holston Is Out

Hewlett-Packard just announced that its general counsel, Michael Holston, is leaving the company.

While it makes sense that new CEO Meg Whitman probably wants some fresh blood in the legal office, the move comes at a delicate time legally for HP, as the company is heading into a trial with Oracle over the Itanium affair, not to mention routine shareholder lawsuits stemming from its $11.7 billion acquisition of Autonomy.

While a search is underway to replace Holston, HP said, David Healy, a partner in the Mergers & Acquisition Group at Fenwick & West, will serve in the interim as HP’s general counsel. Healy advised HP on its acquisition of Vertica and the deal to sell its video collaboration assets to Polycom.

Holston is former federal prosecutor who had been a partner at the law firm of Morgan Lewis when then-CEO Mark Hurd brought him in to investigate the messy pretexting scandal that rocked HP in 2006. (Here’s a transcript of Holston in a press conference explaining the firm’s work from September of that year.) In the book on that scandal, Anthony Bianco’s, “The Big Lie” Holston is portrayed as having saved Hurd from having to resign amid the scandal that hit when he was only a year on the job.

A profile of Holston by Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, described him as Hurd’s “consigliere,” who ultimately had to turn against him when Hurd’s troubles involving a marketing contractor and expense reports led him to resign last year.

HP’s statement is below.

Michael J. Holston to Leave HP

PALO ALTO, CA–(Marketwire -12/12/11)- HP today announced that Michael J. Holston, executive vice president and general counsel, will leave the company to pursue other opportunities.

Prior to his joining HP, Holston supported the company as external counsel for more than 10 years on a variety of litigation and regulatory matters.

“Mike has been an exceptional leader at HP and a great contributor to the company’s mission,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. “The entire company wishes him well in his future endeavors.”

HP also announced that David W. Healy, partner and co-chair, Mergers & Acquisition Group, Fenwick & West LLP, will act as HP’s general counsel on an interim basis. Healy represented HP on its recent acquisition of Vertica and its agreement to sell its Video Collaboration business unit to Polycom. Healy will oversee all legal activities during the interim period.

The company further announced that a formal search is underway for a replacement. Candidates from both inside and outside the company will be considered.

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