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HP merger leader moves on

Hewlett-Packard says that Jeff Clarke, a high-level executive who was instrumental in leading its $19 billion merger with Compaq Computer, has resigned.

Hewlett-Packard reported Tuesday that Executive Vice President Jeff Clarke, who helped lead the company's $19 billion merger with Compaq Computer, has resigned.

Clarke, who had previously served as chief financial officer at Compaq, moved into a new role as HP's supply chain chief late last year. The company declined to comment on the circumstances of Clarke's departure, other than to say in a statement that the resignation was "mutually agreed to" and "appropriate."

During his time spearheading one of the largest mergers in the history of the computer industry, Clarke was credited with helping HP accelerate its deal-related, cost-cutting schedule by years.

The company originally planned to cut $2.5 billion in expenses by fiscal 2004, but ultimately said it decreased expenses by $3 billion before the end of fiscal 2003. Most recently, Clarke pledged to reduce expenses by a further $1 billion.

In a telephone interview with CNET on Tuesday, Clarke said that he hopes to land a spot as chief financial officer of a company. "I plan on pursuing CFO and even some CEO opportunities," he said.

Clarke was seen as a likely candidate for HP's CFO spot should current financial chief Bob Wayman retire; Wayman has not indicated a desire to do so.

"The job I want is not available (at HP)," Clarke said. "Bob's a great CFO."

Several other top-ranking HP executives closely involved in the merger have also left the company recently or are planning to leave. Webb McKinney, a longtime HP leader who co-led the merger-integration effort with Clarke, said last month that he plans to retire before the end of the year.

Susan Bowick, the human resources executive who helped blend the two companies' work forces, announced similar plans in November. Also resigning were two London-based HP Services executives and Compaq's former server executive, Mary McDowell.

HP also confirmed Tuesday that Suzette Stephens, vice president of communications, has left the company. Stephens said Tuesday that she left for "personal reasons."

CNET's Dawn Kawamoto contributed to this report.