Meg Whitman to Step Down as Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO

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Meg Whitman,

one of Silicon Valley’s most experienced chief executives and one of the most prominent women in American business, said she would step down as chief executive of

Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Co.

HPE 1.68%

early next year, handing the reins to a company veteran and signing off on her overhaul of the troubled hardware maker.

Ms. Whitman, who took the helm of Hewlett-Packard, the predecessor of HPE, six years ago, on Tuesday said she would consider taking another chief executive position.

“It would have to be the right role,” said Ms. Whitman, 61 years old, who earlier in her career ran eBay Inc. and ran for governor of California in 2010. “I’ve been working nonstop for 35 years, so I’ll definitely take some downtime to recharge.”

Ms. Whitman, a Republican, isn’t running for office again, said spokesman

Henry Gomez.

She has said she would consider a role in government, but she isn’t close with the current administration after last year publicly supporting

Hillary Clinton

over Donald Trump. Ms. Whitman hasn’t participated in Mr. Trump’s various initiatives with the tech industry.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that Ms. Whitman had begun to make plans to leave HPE as early as this fall. At the time, Ms. Whitman said, “there’s more work to be done here.”

Antonio Neri,

who has been with HPE for more than 20 years and holds the job of president, will take over as chief executive in February. “Antonio is a deeper technologist than I am,” said Ms. Whitman, who will remain on the board of directors.

Ms. Whitman is the latest in a wave of female corporate leaders to relinquish power in recent months.

Irene Rosenfeld,

the head of

Mondelez International
Inc.,

stepped down this month.

Sheri McCoy,

CEO of

Avon Products

Inc., and

Sally Smith,

leader of

Buffalo Wild Wings
Inc.,

have announced plans to depart soon.

Tegna
Inc.

Chief Executive

Gracia Martore

retired this June.

Ms. Whitman’s exit leaves few women as chief executives of major technology companies.

Marissa Mayer

left Yahoo Inc. in June after engineering its sale to

Verizon Communications
Inc.

Ginni Rometty

runs

International Business Machines
Corp.

and

Safra Catz

is co-CEO of

Oracle

Corp.

Other prominent female tech executives don’t hold the top rank, such as

Sheryl Sandberg,

the chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., and

Ruth Porat,

chief financial officer at Google parent Alphabet Inc.

Women now command 26 of the S&P 500 companies—or 5.2% of the total, reports Catalyst, a research group. Its tally includes Ms. Whitman.

Ms. Whitman’s departure from HPE has been anticipated for months. She had initially said she would stay five years, but passed her sixth anniversary in September. During her tenure, she led a turnaround plan that involved the largest split in corporate history, tens of thousands of layoffs, $18 billion in write-offs and a leadership shake-up.

There were signs Ms. Whitman was plotting her next move. As Uber Technologies Inc. searched for a new CEO earlier this year, she appeared before Uber’s board as a finalist ahead of a vote in late August, said people familiar with the matter. Ms. Whitman denied she was ever a candidate.

Ms. Whitman had said she wouldn’t leave until a succession plan was in place. In June, she promoted Mr. Neri to president.

HPE is a shadow of the company Ms. Whitman took over. When Ms. Whitman took the role at the company then known as Hewlett-Packard, it was one of the largest tech companies, with about $127 billion in annual revenue and 350,000 employees.

HPE—which mainly sells corporate computing hardware after shedding PCs and printers, outsourcing services and software—has 52,000 employees and on Tuesday reported 2017 revenue of $28.9 billion. Its market capitalization before the earnings release was about $23 billion.

Since HPE was created on Nov. 2, 2015, the company said, it has delivered a total shareholder return of 89%. “We’ve worked together very closely over the past five or six years to restructure the company and to create the kind of shareholder value that we’ve done,” Ms. Whitman said of Mr. Neri.

HPE shares fell 6.5% to $13.20 in after-hours trading as the company also issued a downbeat profit outlook for the current quarter.

The company reported fourth-quarter profit of $524 million, 32 cents a share, up from earnings of $165 million, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings fell to 31 cents a share from 61 cents a year earlier. Revenue rose 4.6% to $7.66 billion.

Corrections & Amplifications
Antonio Neri was promoted to president of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in June. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated he was promoted in July. (Nov. 24)

Write to Rachael King at rachael.king@wsj.com

Appeared in the November 22, 2017, print edition as ‘Whitman Exits HPE After Big Overhaul.’



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