HP taps NCR's Mark Hurd as new CEO

Mark Hurd's experience turning around NCR, a retail hardware and software vendor, led to his appointment as the new head of HP, according to reports.

After reviving NCR Corp., Mark Hurd now has another reclamation project on his hands.

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP's) board of directors has selected him as the company's new leader following the abrupt dismissal of Carly Fiorina earlier this year, according to multiple media reports Tuesday. An HP spokesman refused to comment on the reports, which said the company would formally introduce Hurd later on Tuesday.

Hurd is a 25-year veteran of NCR, a supplier of retail point-of-sale hardware and software. He was named president and chief executive officer of the Dayton, Ohio, company in 2003 after serving as head of the company's Teradata division. Teradata provides data warehousing and customer-relationship management software to businesses.

His experience running a company with multiple businesses will serve him well at HP, said Sam Bhavnani, an analyst with Current Analysis Inc. in La Jolla, California. Hurd is also noted for his painstaking attention to operational efficiencies, a trait that helped him boost NCR's stock (NCR) price from around $10 in 2003 to Monday's closing price of $37.90, he said.

NCR investors were certainly disappointed to lose Hurd, sending the company's stock price down $4.80, or 12.7 percent, on the news Tuesday that he had been picked for the top spot at HP.

"If you look at the track record, he took a company that was floundering and took it around to where it's a very healthy company. HP's board is looking to him to do something similar here, because he's had success executing on strategies," Bhavnani said.

HP ousted Fiorina in February after revealing that she and the board of directors were at odds on how best to run HP. Fiorina was known as a visionary marketer who engineered the complex acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp. in 2002. The deal was supposed to transform HP from a sleepy research and development firm focused on printers to a global technology conglomerate with leading market share positions in just about every segment of computer hardware.

Fiorina did create a technology powerhouse that could compete with Dell Inc. and IBM Corp., but she failed to deliver the promised returns to HP's investors. She was also criticized for a hands-off approach to daily management and a refusal to name a chief operating officer to help her run the company.

Fiorina's replacement will have a tough job. Aside from the company's lucrative printing business, the US$60 billion company has been struggling to find ways to make its business units profitable and the controversial acquisition of Compaq is now widely regarded as a failure.

Since Fiorina's departure, HP has been run on an interim basis by the company's chief financial officer, 36-year HP veteran Robert P. Wayman. In February, Wayman said the company's next CEO would be "someone who will fit in the culture." However, he added, "that doesn't mean that you don't want a leader that doesn't challenge that culture."

As an outsider, Hurd will have the freedom to make sweeping changes in operational procedures at HP, Bhavnani said.

Ann Livermore and Vyomesh Joshi are two internal candidates who had been considered top contenders for the job. Livermore, the executive vice president of HP's storage, servers and services group had also been considered for the job before Fiorina was selected in 1999. Joshi, the executive vice president responsible for HP's printing and imaging business, is considered one of the rising stars in the organization.

(Robert McMillan contributed to this report.)

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