HP appointment 'best person for the job'

Size isn't the reason Compaq executives are scoring the top jobs at the merged Hewlett-Packard, HP says.

Hewlett-Packard New Zealand is rejecting any suggestion that Compaq is taking most of the top jobs in the merged company in the South Pacific region because here it is the larger of the two firms.

Yesterday, Compaq New Zealand head Russell Hewitt was appointed chief executive of the new merged entity. Hewitt also became general manager of the new company's enterprise systems group, while pre-merger HP New Zealand head Barry Hastings becomes general manager of the personal systems and imaging and printing groups.

Compaq bosses have scored other top jobs, in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

HP New Zealand spokeswoman Joanna Burgess says the appointment process is one of picking the best people for the job.

"From what I understand, they are going through a rigorous interviewing process. At the end of the day, it does not matter where they come from. Whether they are Compaq or HP is neither here or there," she says.

"These things [announcements] are cascading down, now to the level of country manager. But we do not expect any more until after the legal close [of the merger on May 7]," Burgess says.

Current Compaq Australia head Paul Branding will head the Australian merged entity and lead the South Pacific as a sub-region of Asia Pacific, which is run by Compaq executive Paul Chan. Indications in Australia are that the company's management team will also be weighted toward Compaq executives.

Compaq New Zealand spokesman Ken Erskine says the newly merged company is still setting out its new structure and this must be done before it can appoint the appropriate personnel.

"We decide the form of the new organisation and then fit the people [around it]," says Erskine.

There is no set time scale for the integration of the two companies, he says, which must yet overcome legal issues.

"This is why we cannot say [anything] about management teams, product roadmaps and go-to-market strategies," Erskine says.

Both Russell Hewitt and Barry Hastings were unavailable for comment. Hastings is reportedly in the US on company business and Hewitt is also said to be overseas.

In the US, Judge William Chandler has yet to rule on the fate of the merger, which has received tentative approval from shareholders but faces a legal challenge from Walter Hewlett's over the shareholder vote.

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