SAN FRANCISCO » Whatever Mark Hurd did that cost him his job as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest technology company, it wasn’t enough to cost him a payday that could top $40 million.
Meanwhile, with little still known about why an actress and HP contractor threatened Hurd with a sexual harassment lawsuit, stockholders took a $9 billion hit yesterday, and HP’s 300,000 workers were left to wonder about its future.
HP insisted that the problems it uncovered with the CEO’s behavior were limited to falsified expense reports for his dinners and other meetings with Jodie Fisher, who helped organize HP events from 2007 to 2009 and greeted executives at the gatherings.
Fisher, 50, has appeared in racy movies with titles such as "Sheer Passion" and "Intimate Obsession" and recently a television dating show. She was paid up to $5,000 per event to greet people at HP events and make introductions among executives.
Hurd has settled with Fisher for an undisclosed sum, and both parties have said the relationship was not sexual. Hurd said an assistant prepared all of his expenses. He has offered to reimburse HP for the errors.
The company has offered no further details.
Hurd gets $12.2 million in severance, plus stock and options that could bring the total value of the package to more than $40 million, based on calculations using HP’s stock price Friday, before HP disclosed the resignation.
Analysts said the generous package shows Hurd was highly valued for restoring steady results to the company, a Silicon Valley institution, after a period of upheaval that followed the stewardship of Carly Fiorina. Fiorina, the Republican nominee for Senate in California, got a severance package worth $21.1 million after she was ousted from HP in 2005.
"It tells you how important people think he is to HP," said Jayson Noland, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. "It gives you a sense for how valuable a really good CEO can be."
He noted the severance is a tiny fraction of the $125 billion HP expects to record in revenue this year.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management and an expert on CEO leadership and corporate governance issues, called Hurd’s pay package a "damning indictment" of the way CEO hiring contracts are set up. Sonnenfeld said the contracts are "overly lawyered" and make it essentially impossible to fire executives for cause and therefore stop any severance payment.