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Ellison/Apotheker drama continues

by Scott Priest, Editorial Director

October 27, 2010

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made a fuss over HP's hiring of Leo Apotheker as its next CEO last month, and isn't done by any means. The hiring's overlapping with the Oracle/SAP trial -- in which Oracle is seeking damages for allegedly illegally downloaded software -- only increases the soap opera tendencies in Ellison.

"Unless, Mr. Lane and the rest of the HP Board of Directors decide to keep their new CEO far, far away from HP Headquarters until that trial is over. If HP keeps Leo Apotheker far from HP headquarters we cannot subpoena him to testify at that trial," Ellison's statement said.

"I don't think Ray Lane wants to risk Leo Apotheker testifying under oath as to why he allowed the theft of Oracle's property to continue for 8 months after he was made sole CEO of SAP. I hope I'm wrong, but my guess is that new HP's Chairman, Mr. Lane, will keep HP's new CEO, Mr. Apotheker, far, far away from the Courthouse until this trial is over."

HP received plenty of criticism for its Apotheker hire due to his struggles in eight months at SAP, but this looks like a headache that they were either not prepared for, or overlooked. If Apotheker dodges the trial, it looks pretty bad for him, and as a result for his new company. If he attends, it could be worse.

That said, HP's stock price has risen in the last month despite a steady decline in the last summer. But they could be in for more problems if this situation isn't handled properly.

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