back to article HP sued by investor over PC and TouchPad antics

HP is facing legal action brought about by a disgruntled shareholder who claims the tech titan hid plans to review ownership of the PC biz and flush the TouchPad down the toilet [causing it to suddenly catch fire - ed]. The PC business may be sold, kept or as seems most likely spun off with the backing of private equity …

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I tend to agree with this.

Along with Nokia both boards of directors should be hauled before the courts for allowing CEO's of dubious ability to destroy shareholder value.

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I think you're rather missing the point. They aren't suing because of the decision but rather prospective shareholders not being told earlier.

Case hasn't got a hope in hell and I look forward to his next effort at suing for not being told information that would enable insider trading.

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Go

BooHooHoooooo

Watch my pram - it's the one with toys flying oot it

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FAIL

Your Fail

I think you have completely failed to understand how corporate governance is meant to work.

The CEO is there to manage the company and appointed by the board.

The board is there to look after the shareholders interests and should rein in and fire the ceo if he acts against shareholder interests.

In the case of HP the incompetent way the TouchPad and PC div sale was handled is more than enough cause in my opinion to call the board to account. No doubt they would argue that the long term effects will be positive, no doubt both them and the CEO will be long gone.

Unfortunately since most shares are owned by pension and investment funds who are very passive such calling of boards to account is very rare indeed, and then he only avenue for smaller shareholders to follow is legal.

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Huh

So WebOS was at the periphery of tech titan HP's plans? The heck you say.

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Happy

YAY!!!

It's exactly this kind of legal action that makes a board have to take look and how f&*%cked up a CEO is running their ship. If enough people sign on this could have some real teeth and maybe even resurrect the wonderfully promising the Pre and Touchpad had to offer.

So come on HP shareholders - sounds like easy way to get your 20% market loss back

Not to mention this will help teach Publicly traded companies to pull 180's and just up and change what people had invested in.

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A title is optional, and may contain badgers

"So come on HP shareholders - sounds like easy way to get your 20% market loss back"

You know that won't happen; even Fiorina was able to steamroll them into the ground.

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WTF?

Okay, I'm feeling stupid, but...

er, What's the point of suing an entity that you own?

I don't understand. I'm not passing judgement on anyone, but just hoping someone can lessen my ignorance. Thank you.

I went for WTF? because W? wasn't available.

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Happy

No stupid questions....Usually to recover losses or change direction of company

It could be to simple get a judgement against the company that you feel screwed you.

You sell shares at the 20% loss, sue for difference and re-coup your losses. As long as you are suing a large money making org like HP, its not like HP will go under because of it. Even smarter, keep the shares, sue for the difference, win, keep the shares and wait for the market to recover....free money!

(note I don't agree that people SHOULD be allowed to do this, but that could be a reason WHY they do.)

The other reason is really for the headlines/pressure. It doesn't really matter whether they win or lose the suit, now that the newspapers are touting this headline, the board can't ignore the issue so much.

They have to do a gut check, on whether this new CEO is really bringing them profits as he was expected to. When stock drops 20% AND they are facing class action suit it makes them have to review the direction and head of the company together.

Third... they may actually feel lied to and want redress in the courts. I know I had respect for HP's dominance in the PC market, and really felt they had promise with WebOS, especially on the Pre and touchpad. If I invested my hard earned retirement fund into share of that company, only to find that the CEO was dumping it ALL in the garbage with early announcements (even before suitors had been found) all to waste 12$ BILLION dollars of my investment money on buying a crappy software company whose purpose I didn't understand I would feel pretty cheated.

Just my unprofessional, but hope it helps

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He doesn't own it

He owns shares in it, which have now been devalued by the incompetence of the top management. Had investors been aware at the time that the management had planned on taking the route they chose they may not have invested in the company and lost the value of their investment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He doesn't own it

"Had investors been aware at the time that the management had planned on taking the route they chose they may not have invested in the company and lost the value of their investment."

Usually I'd advise people in this kind of situation to stop moaning, sell and invest in better companies, but if the board was keeping investors in the dark, there are ethical and most probably legal implications that come into play. So the important thing is the information available to shareholders.

The same applies to Nokia. If stunt-CEO Stephen Elop didn't tell investors about his secret projects before the big February announcement then they may also feel similarly aggrieved. But people investing now, hopefully aware of the incompetence of the man, cannot honestly claim that they have been duped.

If the board tells you that they have stupid plans and you sit on the shares accepting it as good strategy, you can't complain about the share price tanking later on.

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WTF?

but he does own a share in it...

that's the entire point of being a shareholder... the shareholders ARE the actual owners of the company... nobody else, just the shareholders

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"What's the point of suing an entity that you own?"

If this were a unilateral action on behalf of every single one of the shareholders, I'd see your point, but it's not. Even a collective class action lawsuit filed in the US does not mean every single HP shareholder in the world will be paid a proportionate amount (and have the value of their shares by the same amount). So a win would come at the expense of other shareholders.

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Anonymous Coward

Ridiculous

This is yet another super dumb lawsuit. If HP had made public that they didn't give a rat's arse about WebOS after buying it, then no-one would have bought any WebOS products at all (even less than the handful who did buy the products) and they would have thrown even more money away (with increased loss of shareholder value. In fact, if they had announced that before doing it, they would probably have opened up the route for shareholders to sue over the decision to buy WebOS itself.

Now, I do think, in hindsight, that HP's decision to buy WebOS was probably foolish. But you don't have hindsight to help you when you are making share purchasing decisions. That is why buying shares carries some risk.

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But...

If they had informed shareholders about their plans ahead of the announcement, wouldn't that be insider trading? I don't understand the complaint here, other than HP's woeful mismanagement, but if he did his homework that shouldn't have been a surprise either.

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Anonymous Coward

So they don't inform shareholders, but they keep the strategy to themselves at board level. Let's say that some of them sold shares before the announcement, anticipating a slide in the price. Now *that* is more likely to be insider trading.

Of course, the buffoons involved here probably thought that the market would reward their actions. Subsequent events have rather confirmed the buffoon assessment, too.

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"sending its stock price plummeting by around 20 per cent."

Sounds like it's time for another round of CEO bonuses!

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call me obtuse...

... but I don't get this. When you buy shares in a company, you're buying risk. The prospectus spells that out. We can't just sue every time a stock loses money, and it doesn't matter how incompetent the management might turn out to have been - you voluntarily gave them your money to play with.

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Bronze badge
Meh

it's not about stock value

HP paid $1.2bln for Palm - mostly WebOS since they don't seem to make use of anything else, and WebOS was one asset mentioned on the press release ( http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2010/100428xa.html ). So either it was money deliberately wasted or investors were right to assume that WebOS is part of the long time business strategy. As it turns out they were wrong and the board needed less than 18 months to write $1.2bln acquisition down.

The only conclusion - the board is very bad with investors money and rightly deserve spanking.

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Bronze badge

Risk, lies, deception,false pretences, fraud

"it doesn't matter how incompetent the management might turn out to have been - you voluntarily gave them your money to play with"

It really depends upon the basis of the investment.

If I say I have a luxury hotel that will turn a huge profit, you're convinced by that and invest your money, only for me to turn round and say, "gotcha, I'm knocking the hotel down next week"; is that 'risk' or something else?

I'd sue the arse off anyone who pulled that stunt with me.

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Silver badge

Who's running the company here?

I've seen a few companies that were run by the shareholders alone.

None of them exist anymore.

Companies have the company in their best interest.

If the company is your ONLY interest, you'll end up with a company, and everyone will be poor.

Shareholders have money in their best interest.

If money is your ONLY interest, you'll make a pack of money, then you'll go broke.

There IS a happy medium, and if you expect to get there, the shareholders should NOT make the moves here.

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Silver badge

Yes, Apotheker is an incompetent fool and the board is responsible for these huge losses...

....there's not too much to argue here - I wish the best for the shareholders, this insanity must stop where these clueless lunatic CEOs with no idea just gamble with sudden, "bold moves" without properly notifying investors of the expected sharp losses, at least on short term.

Nokia was a textbook case of a stupid Microsoft-beancounter but this one is even worse, Apotheker was ousted even from SAP after his disastrous reign and now wrecking havoc at HP, thanks to an utterly stupid, clueless, irresponsible board. They should pay accordingly.

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Headmaster

Titular declaration

"Apotheker was ousted even from SAP after his disastrous reign and now wrecking havoc at HP"

I think you meant "wreaking havoc".

Ummmmm, but on thinking about it, maybe you did get it right!!

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WTF?

Why invest in HP in the first place ?

HP bought up some of the best technologies and ended up canning them each time in favor of less potent technologies ... what do you want, some never learn from past mistakes ... ;-)

Where is Matt Bryant when you need him?

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Anonymous Coward

US investors appear to be a bit on the lemmingy side

I once worked for a UK company manufacturing and selling a world leading product. One year the US parent company declared a smaller dividend to invest the rest in R&D.

They were sued by the US shareholders and lost: so no R&D. Fast forward a couple of years to a recession and the only way to make the shareholders dividends was to sell the only profit making part of the business - us. Our company was bought by US rivals, whose product sales were being destroyed by our existence. Product manufacture was relocated to the US. By employing a couple of engineers worldwide there begat a 6 month engineering visit wait - end of our product line!

Now we had the original US Parent company with no money making subsidiaries - didn't last long after that strangely enough!

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