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SEC Probes Former HP CEO Mark Hurd

Investigators said to be focused on whether Hurd, now co-president at Oracle, leaked details of HP's plan to buy EDS to a female companion.
Federal securities regulators have launched an investigation into the circumstances that led up to Mark Hurd's departure from Hewlett-Packard, and are particularly focused on whether HP's former CEO leaked details of a confidential plan to acquire outsourcer Electronic Data Systems.

Securities and Exchange Commission investigators may be concerned that Hurd slipped details of the EDS plan to Jodie Fisher, the blonde marketing contractor with whom Hurd was found by HP to be having an inappropriate relationship, according to a report published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal. HP completed its $13.9 billion acquisition of EDS in August of 2008.

The SEC may also be looking into other aspects of Hurd's tenure at HP, according to the Journal, which said it's unclear how long the investigation has been in progress.

A spokesman for Hurd told the newspaper that the executive, now co-president at HP rival Oracle, had done nothing wrong. "Mark acted properly in all respects," said the spokesman.

"It is understandable that the SEC is looking into the events surrounding Mark's departure, which was followed by a precipitous drop in the value of HP's stock," the spokesman told the Journal. HP's share price declined about 13% in the days following the August 6 announcement that Hurd was stepping down from the top job at HP, which he held since 2005.

HP's official reasons for demanding Hurds resignation were vague. The company first cited his relationship with Fisher—which Hurd insisted was never anything more than a friendship—but then also quietly raised questions about his expense reports.

During his tenure at HP, Hurd was credited for boosting the company's profits and market share in PCs and other tech equipment, but was also widely criticized by employees for cutting salaries while top executives saw their bonuses increase.

Hurd was named co-president of Oracle in September.