Hewlett-Packard names activist investor to board

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ? Hewlett-Packard Co. has appointed an activist shareholder to its board of directors, the latest attempt to placate investors rattled by the company’s management turmoil.

The Palo Alto-based company said Thursday that Ralph Whitworth, co-founder of Relational Investors LLC, has joined the board effective immediately.

“We believe that Ralph will bring a constructive voice and a track record of value creation into the boardroom,” Ray Lane, HP’s executive chairman, said in a statement. “We look forward to benefitting from his perspective and experience.”

With his nomination, Whitworth’s investment firm agreed to support the HP board for the next two years, and the board will nominate Whitworth, as long as Relational is a significant HP shareholder.

HP has been in turmoil since CEO Mark Hurd was ousted last year in an ethical scandal, and his successor, Leo Apotheker, was ousted in September and replaced by former eBay Inc. CEO Meg Whitman. In January, HP replaced a third of its board in a sweeping leadership change designed to instill investor confidence.

Whitworth’s appointment expands the board to 14 members.

HP shares are down more than 40 percent since Hurd’s ouster. They ended Thursday down 64 cents, or 2.3 percent, at $27.29.