HPE CEO Whitman’s shock exit stumps Wall Avenue

(Reuters) – Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (HPE.N) fell 6 % on Wednesday after Chief Government Officer Meg Whitman’s choice to step down from the function took Wall Avenue abruptly.

FILE PHOTO: Meg Whitman, President and Chief Government Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, attends the annual assembly of the World Financial Discussion board (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photograph

Whitman, one essentially the most high-profile executives in the USA, mentioned on Tuesday she would stop as CEO in February and hand over the reins to firm veteran Antonio Neri.

After stories surfaced that she was being thought-about for the highest job at Uber, Whitman bolstered her dedication to the function in July by saying that she was totally dedicated to HPE and deliberate to stay CEO.

“We’ve got a whole lot of work nonetheless to do at HPE and I’m not going wherever. Uber’s CEO won’t be Meg Whitman,” she had tweeted. (bit.ly/2jesxl9)

On Wednesday, Whitman instructed CNBC that talks with Uber had not been a consider her choice to depart HPE “in any respect.” ‍​

However her transfer caught analysts off guard. HPE is in the course of a restructuring to chop prices, spend money on analysis and concentrate on high-margin companies. Its mainstay server enterprise has been struggling as clients more and more purchase non-branded, assembled servers which might be less expensive.

“We’re stunned by the timing of the CEO transition given commentary on the current analyst day that appeared to suggest a CEO transition was not within the offing,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Lengthy mentioned in a analysis notice.

Lengthy, nevertheless, added that Neri’s expertise operating the corporate’s Enterprise Group made him a robust match for the CEO function.

The restructuring, which was introduced final month and known as HPE Subsequent, was speculated to be led by Neri – a pc engineer who has spent greater than twenty years with the corporate and is HPE’s present president.

Neri’s appointment shouldn’t be a shock given his elevated visibility in current months, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a analysis notice.

Neri started his profession in Hewlett Packard as a customer support engineer within the EMEA name heart. He beforehand led HP’s expertise companies enterprise after which its server and networking companies, earlier than taking up the entire Enterprise Group in 2015.

Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz and Morgan Stanley’s Huberty anticipate Neri to shift gears and aggressively develop expertise in-house, quite than concentrate on mergers.

Since its break up from Hewlett-Packard in late 2015, HPE has spent billions shopping for corporations offering cloud software program and knowledge storage to raised place itself to serve clients who’re shifting their operations to the cloud.

HPE’s shares have risen 5 % this 12 months, in contrast with a 16 % acquire within the S&P 500 index .SPX. They have been buying and selling at $13.28 in early buying and selling on Wednesday.

(This model of the story was refiled to repair typo 2105 to 2015 in penultimate paragraph)

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Extra reporting by Sonam Rai; Enhancing by Sayantani Ghosh

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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