December 12, 2001 2:10 PM PST

HP integration exec defends merger

The Hewlett-Packard executive in charge of integrating the tech giant with Compaq Computer said Wednesday that HP remains committed to the merger but pointed out that the bulk of HP workers are still focused on doing business as an independent company.

Webb McKinney, president of HP's business customer unit, said in a conference call with reporters that "99.7 percent of employees are focused on winning customers today and competing in the marketplace."

At the same time, he reaffirmed HP's commitment to the Compaq deal. "There is no thinking of calling off the merger," McKinney said. "There is no Plan B."

McKinney reiterated his belief that winning support is achievable, despite the opposition from Walter Hewlett, David W. Packard, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and other family heirs. Collectively, all the heirs hold 18 percent of HP shares.

"Eighty-two percent of shareholders have not made preliminary statements as to how they might vote," McKinney noted.

He rebuffed the notion expressed this week by analysis firm Gartner that customers should be leery of buying HP products.

"I think customers should be able to buy with the same confidence they always have," McKinney said. "Even without a merger, there are changes in product directions." However, McKinney said HP would support its customers and help them migrate to any new products.

 

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