HP/COMPAQ: HP seeks dismissal of Walter Hewlett's suit

HP/COMPAQ: HP seeks dismissal of Walter Hewlett's suit

By filing suit against Hewlett-Packard, Walter Hewlett has effectively conceded that he lost his proxy battle to stop the HP/Compaq merger, HP charged in a motion aimed at blocking the suit.

Hewlett filed the lawsuit last week in Delaware Chancery Court, charging that HP coerced Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank to switch 17 million of its 25 million shares in favour of the $US22 billion merger after it had allegedly already voted against the deal. On Monday, HP attorneys sought to have Hewlett's suit dismissed on the grounds that he failed to substantiate any of the charges of vote tampering.

Hewlett claims that one of the reasons Deutsche Bank changed its votes was because it became the co-arranger of a new multibillion-dollar line of credit for the company.

"Hewlett alleges that one stockholder decided to vote in a manner that it believed would serve its own business interests, even though, presumably, thousands of HP stockholders voted against the merger for the very same reason," the 23-page HP brief said.

A spokesman for Hewlett said HP's actions change nothing. "We fully anticipated that they would make this motion, and we fully stand by our lawsuit," said Todd Glass, a spokesman for Hewlett. He said Hewlett would offer no public statement on HP's latest action.

For their part, HP's attorneys, Delaware-based Potter Anderson & Corroon, charge that what is really behind Hewlett's actions is that he refuses to accept the outcome of the vote, which has not yet been certified.

"Hewlett effectively concedes that he lost the proxy contest," the HP brief said. "What he apparently will not concede is that he has apparently lost the proxy contest because a majority of the HP's stockholders -- indeed, the vast majority of votes cast by stockholders unaffiliated with the Hewlett and Packard families -- simply did not agree with his position."

According to Glass, however, Hewlett doesn't concede losing the vote, and he noted that even preliminary results of the March 19 voting have yet to be announced. Glass said a preliminary result would be announced to each side before the final result would be certified, giving the participants the option of disputing and challenging those initial results. A final tally isn't expected for several weeks.

In the meantime, a hearing on HP's motion has been scheduled for Sunday.

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