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Meg Whitman to get HP job after the bell, report says

The former eBay CEO will take over as Hewlett-Packard's chief executive after the market closes this afternoon.

Meg Whitman will soon be named HP's CEO, a new report claims.
Meg Whitman will soon be named HP's CEO, a new report claims.
Flickr user Max Morse

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman will take over as Hewlett-Packard's chief executive when the market closes later today, AllThingsD is reporting, citing anonymous sources.

According to AllThingsD, Whitman's appointment has not yet been voted on by the board, but that is expected to happen later today. If all goes well, HP's current CEO Leo Apotheker will be out, and Whitman will be in as CEO in a permanent capacity. Yesterday, reports suggested Whitman would serve as HP's CEO on an interim basis.

AllThingsD and Bloomberg separately reported yesterday, citing anonymous sources, that HP was considering removing Apotheker as CEO and replacing him with Whitman. At the time, those sources didn't know when the change might occur, but it seemed rather likely that it would happen sooner rather than later.

During his 11-month tenure as CEO, Apotheker has been criticized by those who said he was ill-prepared to take over such a sophisticated company as HP. That said, Apotheker hasn't been shy to mix things up. In that time, he has shifted HP's focus to software and the cloud, and discontinued the company's TouchPad tablet. Apotheker has also recommended to the board that HP spin off its PC business, known internally as the Personal Systems Group, so the company can focus its efforts on other markets.

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Transitioning HP to a software and services provider plays into Apotheker's expertise. Prior to joining HP, Apotheker was best known for his tenure as CEO of German software company SAP. In 2010, Apotheker resigned from SAP after the board declined to extend his contract following somewhat disappointing sales and earnings.

During his 11-month stint at HP, Apotheker's financial track record hasn't been much better. The company has been forced to slash sales forecasts multiple times, and since the beginning of 2011, its shares are down nearly 46 percent to $22.82.

Whether Whitman, an HP board member, will be able to stabilize the company, however, remains to be seen. Whitman, who ran eBay for 10 years before leaving in 2008, will have some serious work cut out for her.

HP CEO Leo Apotheker
HP CEO Leo Apotheker Dan Farber/CNET

That said, Whitman is apparently ready for the job. AllThingsD yesterday cited sources who said that since her unsuccessful California gubernatorial bid last year, Whitman has been looking for another CEO job at a major tech firm, and had expressed interest in taking over for Apotheker.

The big question mark at this point, though, is how HP's shareholders will respond to the move. Many investors have grown tired of the revolving door that has become HP's CEO office, and given Whitman's consumer experience, there might be some concern that she won't be able to adequately address the needs of HP's enterprise division.

Looking at HP's stock, there appears to be some doubt on Wall Street over how the transition will affect the company. Yesterday, HP's shares rose sharply following rumors of Apotheker's ouster. However, the company's shares started today much lower, and are currently down about 5 percent to $22.82, as of this writing.

HP declined to comment.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.