HP's Whitman: I'll decide PC biz fate this month

The new CEO says that she's aiming to make a decision on whether to spin off the company's PC business by the end of October.

HP's PC business might learn of its fate sooner than expected.
HP's PC business might learn of its fate sooner than expected. HP

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman plans to make a decision on the future of her company's PC division sooner rather than later.

She served that notice yesterday at Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. According to Reuters, which was in attendance at the event, Whitman told the audience that she planned to make a call on the fate of the PC division, known internally as the Personal Systems Group, "much faster" than former HP Leo Apotheker planned to, adding that she'd like to make her decision "by the end of October."

In August, HP announced plans to shift its focus to software and services. In the process, the company announced the discontinuation of its TouchPad tablet, and acknowledged that it was considering spinning off the Personal Systems Group . At the time, HP said that the board of directors would make the final determination by the end of 2011 on whether it should spin off the PC business.

Related stories:
• HP chair favors 'HP PC' in name of spin-off--report
• What will HP do with its PC business?
• HP's Whitman: PC spinoff, Autonomy deal still on

After Apotheker was ousted from HP last month and replaced by Whitman, the company's new CEO said that the possibility of spinning off the Personal Systems Group was still on the table , but at that time, she had not shifted the timetable for a decision.

"With regard to the potential spinoff of PSG, we're committed to doing work right now to determine the best path forward and we expect the board to make a determination by the end of the calendar year if not sooner," Whitman told investors and analysts last month. "This decision is solely based on the value to and investors and value to customers."

Although HP is the world's largest PC maker from a financial perspective, the PSG isn't necessarily helping the company's shareholders. As HP chairman Ray Lane pointed out in an interview with CRN last month, PCs deliver boatloads of cash but margins are still quite low.

The PC industry is "pretty much a commodity business," Lane told CRN, adding that he's in favor of HP spinning off the PSG.

If and when HP spins off its PC business, it'll take some time for the company to complete the process. In August, it said that the spinoff could take between 12 and 18 months from the time a decision is made.

 

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