Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

No, HP Will Not Be Selling Autonomy or EDS or Anything Else

no-thank-you-jpgHewlett-Packard is receiving plenty of interest from potential buyers of its Autonomy software and EDS IT services business units. But they’re all getting the very same answer from CEO Meg Whitman: Thanks, but no thanks.

Dow Jones just reported minutes ago that HP is receiving “expressions of interest” from potential buyers. But according to sources familiar with the matter, HP receives such incoming interest on a regular basis.

However, the normal flow of incoming interest, these sources say, has picked up in recent weeks in the wake of two developments. First, the rumors, since confirmed, that HP rival Dell is in advanced talks to go private in a leveraged buyout, spurred additional interest, primarily from other technology companies as well as private equity firms, in buying either unit or both. “Dell has everyone in a tizzy,” one source said.

The second and more important development is new language found in HP’s most recent 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, first sniffed out by Bloomberg News, saying the company continues to “evaluate the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help us meet our objectives.”

That language, sources say, was inserted in the latest filing at the insistence of HP’s lawyers and doesn’t reflect Whitman’s view, which she has reiterated often, that HP will remain intact as a single entity. The sources stressed that Whitman’s view on this is unchanged: Her turnaround plan calls for every significant business unit inside HP to remain part of HP.

The sources also said that recent rumors suggesting that HP had quietly set up “working teams” to assess the sale of certain assets are not true.

“We get incoming on this sort of thing almost every day. We may even take some calls or meetings, but every time the answer is the same: No,” one source told me.

Whatever the case, HP shareholders like the rumor: HP shares rose nearly 4 percent to $17.15 on the news.


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