05
October
2006
|
10:06 AM
America/Los_Angeles

Carly ordered first probe into board leaks

Carly Fiorina started HP down the road into covert investigations against board members, ordering probes in January 2005 into whom on the board was leaking to the press, she reveals in her book "Tough Choices," due for release on Tuesday, The New York Times reports.


Larry Sonsini, chairman of Wilson Sonsini, the company's outside law firm, conducted the probe by personally investigating every HP director after an article in The Wall Street Journal revealed an impending reorg. That probe identified Tom Perkins as the source of the article.

She doesn't mention pretexting and the California attorney general's office refused comment on whether it is looking into her actions.

Sonsini told Fiorina that Perkins had been "honest enough to admit" that he had spoken to the Journal.


Ms. Fiorina added, however, that she was deeply suspicious of another board member, George A. Keyworth II, also known as Jay, because of his behavior at a board meeting and during a related board conference call.


In a board conference call in which Sonsini revealed the results of his research, Fiorina writes, all but one board member - Keyworth - spoke up.


Ms. Fiorina asserts that when the Hewlett-Packard board began to turn against her leadership, she was blindsided.



“I was mystified by the board’s recent behavior,” she wrote. “I was suspicious of Jay’s heated denial when the leak first occurred and then his complete silence on our last call.”


Keyworth was central to Fiorina's firing. He, Dunn and Richard Hackborn confronted her in January 2005 and ordered her, on behalf of the board, to launch a massive reorg of the company and essentially abandon her strategic plan. She says she didn't believe they could order her to follow their demands and resisted.

A month later she was unceremoniously dismissed.

Ms. Fiorina describes being asked to leave what would be a final February meeting in Chicago while board members discussed her fate. She reveals particular bitterness about her firing.



After being asked to wait for three hours, none of the board members remained in the room when she returned to it, she wrote. She was greeted by Ms. Dunn, the new board chairwoman and the head of the board’s governance committee, who asked her to announce publicly that the decision to step down had been her own. Ms. Fiorina wrote that she refused.