01:59 AM

Dunn steps down, to be replaced by Hurd

By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher

Patricia Dunn has resigned her position at Chairman of HP but will not step down until January 18, 2007, HP announced today. She will continue as a director.

Dunn had initiated secret spying on board directors in an attempt to root out who leaked information about board discussions to the press. The primary leaker - George Keyworth II, who had refused to resign - also agreed to step down.

CEO Mark Hurd will become the new Chairman in January. Former chairman Richard Hackborn will become lead independent director.

Dunn's official comment:

The recent events that have taken place follow an important investigation that was required after the board sought to resolve the persistent disclosure of confidential information from within its ranks. These leaks had the potential to affect not only the stock price of HP but also that of other publicly traded companies. Unfortunately, the investigation, which was conducted with third parties, included certain inappropriate techniques. These went beyond what we understood them to be, and I apologize that they were employed.

“I am very proud of the progress HP has made over the past 18 months. During the remainder of my tenure as chairman, I look forward to completing the transition that is underway, including expanding the board, continuing to improve our corporate governance standards and bringing the current issues to resolution.”

Keyworth defended his leaks to News.com:

The invasion of my privacy and that of others was ill-conceived and inconsistent with HP's values. I acknowledge that I was a source for a CNET article that appeared in January 2006. I was frequently asked by HP corporate communications officials to speak with reporters - both on the record and on background - in an effort to provide the perspective of a longstanding board member with continuity over much of the company's history. My comments were always praised by senior company officials as helpful to the company - which has always been my intention. The comments I made to the CNET reporter were, I believed, in the best interest of the company and also did not involve the disclosure of confidential or damaging information. There is but one issue that matters now and that is that Mark Hurd and the company have every opportunity to move beyond and above the current morass. While I intend to remain a member of the HP family, and to advise Mark where I can help, it is best for the company that every aspect of this unfortunate matter be put in the past."

Hurd apologized to Tom Perkins, who resigned in protest over the spying incident, but didn't include Keyworth in the apology:

On behalf of HP, I apologize to Tom Perkins for the intrusion into his privacy. I thank Tom for his contributions, his principles and his help in getting HP past this episode toward its rightful place as the envy of corporate America.

Jay is an important member of the HP family. He has served admirably for more than two decades and has provided great expertise, especially on matters relating to technology policy. We wish him well. I appreciate his long and distinguished service to HP. He leaves the HP board with our best wishes and gratitude. I have personally valued his experienced counsel and hope that he will continue to provide me with his advice in the future,