HP Stock Sales Raise Eyebrows

As if Hewlett-Packard didn’t have enough problems with its botched boardroom media leaks investigation, CEO Mark Hurd made nearly $1.4 million in a stock options sale just a week before the scandal became public knowledge.

On Aug. 25, the same day Hurd was interviewed by outside HP attorneys about his role in the pretexting scandal, he exercised options priced at $21.73 a share and sold them for almost $35 a share.

Hurd’s sale “was fully proper,” according to HP spokesperson Emma Wischhusen, who noted Hurd exercised his stock options during the three-week window HP allows each quarter.

Wischhusen also said the sale gained HP internal approval.

Former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, along with company attorneys Kevin Hunsaker and Ann Baskins have all left HP since the scandal broke in early September.

Dunn and Hunsaker also face four felony counts under California law for fraudulent wire communications, wrongful use of computer data, identify theft and conspiracy for their roles in the use of pretexting to obtain the personal call logs of HP board members and journalists.

In addition, HP faces a shareholder suit charging Hurd, Dunn, other executives and HP’s private investigators with breach of fiduciary duties, abuse of control, gross mismanagement and waste of corporate assets. The case is set for a Nov. 2 hearing.

William L. Lerach, an attorney representing Juliet Worsham, who filed the shareholders suit, could not be reached for comment on how the Hurd stock sell-off could impact the lawsuit.

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