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General Mills cuckoo for HP

Hewlett-Packard, looking to shoot down claims that it has lost business because of its merger, announces it will be the preferred computer supplier of the Cocoa Puffs maker.

Hewlett-Packard is eating its Wheaties.

The company announced on Wednesday a multiyear deal to be the preferred supplier of servers, notebooks and desktop computers to cereal and baking-goods giant General Mills.

HP would not say the exact value of the deal, but a representative said it is in the tens of millions of dollars.

Although the deal was just announced by HP, it was actually bid on and sealed by Compaq Computer before the close of the blockbuster merger.

The deal follows announcements of some $5.3 billion in new business HP made when it launched the merged company May 7.

"One of the reasons we did that is to show the number of customers that voted with their business to (demonstrate) that they support this merger," said HP spokeswoman Melissa Cox.

HP has been looking to shoot down claims by competitors that it has lost business because of uncertainty surrounding the merger.

Both HP and Compaq had supplied servers to General Mills, Cox said. Also, Dell Computer was the primary supplier to Pillsbury, which General Mills acquired last year. Cox said General Mills chose HP as part of an effort to consolidate its IT providers.

"We went through the standard (request for proposals) process, accepting bids from a number of vendors," Gary Carlson, General Mills' director of IT, said in a statement. "HP not only had the most competitive pricing, but also had the most breadth in products and services to offer."