Will HP Dump Its Under-Performing Assets This Year?


HP has in mind some streamlining measures for the New Year, with a new report suggesting that it’ll be evaluating the performance of its various business divisions and assets, and perhaps dumping those that fail to meet the firm’s “objectives”.

The news was revealed by Bloomberg, citing a statement by HP CEO Meg Whitman in a 10-K U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing made last month. In the statement, Whitman revealed that the company may look to shed some of its businesses in an effort to balance the books over the coming year.

“(The firm will) continue to evaluate the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help us meet our objectives,” said Whitman in the filing.

The CEO also added that HP doesn’t have any plans to spin off its personal computer division currently, despite persistent rumors about this in the past.

However, the filing goes on to suggest that HP could face some difficulties if it does attempt to ‘shake up’ its business operations. For example, it warns that it may experience difficulty in finding buyers for underperforming businesses. Likewise, it says that finding alternative exit strategies on acceptable terms could also be problematic, meaning that any major changes could be delayed.

A big shake-up would seem to be timely for HP though, what with the company struggling with declining product sales and dealing with numerous management changes over the past couple of years.

One business that HP might look to get rid of is the UK search software firm Autonomy, which it bought for $11.7 billion back in 2011 under the stewardship of its previous CEO Leo Apotheker. The Register reports that this deal, which Apotheker said at the time would position HP to enter new markets, has become hugely controversial since Whitman took over the top job. Late last year it emerged that HP suspected Autonomy of having overstated its value prior to the acquisition, claiming that the company was ‘cooking the books’, for want of a better description.

Q4 saw HP report a staggering $8.8 billion loss as a direct result of this controversy, causing the firm to report the matter to financial authorities. The US Department of Justice is now conducting an investigation into the acquisition, although Autonomy founder Mike Lynch, who negotiated the sale to HP, has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.