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Aug 23, 2010

HP’s new IR officer thrust into bid battle

Fieler fields questions on conference call following HP’s offer for 3PAR

Steve Fieler, Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) incoming head of IR, was thrust into a bid battle yesterday when HP trumped rival Dell’s bid for cloud computing company 3PAR.

Fieler was recently named vice president of IR at HP, and is currently in the process of taking control of the IR department from Jim Burns, who is moving on to another position within the company.

Yesterday Fieler was called on to host a conference call with analysts, following HP’s offer of $1.6 bn for 3PAR, at $24 a share. This beats Dell’s offer, made last week, of $1.1 bn at $18 a share.

On the call, Fieler gave a brief overview of the deal before handing over to Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager of enterprise servers, storage and networking at HP.

Fieler also answered questions on how the deal might affect HP’s future performance and share buyback program. ‘We have a strong balance sheet and cash flow generation; this deal does not at all preclude us from being active in buying back our shares,’ he said.

Fieler benefits from having prior experience of M&A transactions. In a previous role at HP – as senior director of strategy and corporate development – he worked on deals worth roughly $7 bn and various strategy projects between 2004 and 2008.

Prior to joining HP, Fieler was an executive and venture capitalist at private equity firm TH Lee Putnam Ventures. His career began at General Electric, where he held a range of finance roles.

Fieler was introduced to HP’s investors and analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call last week by Cathie Lesjak, HP’s CFO and interim CEO (following the resignation of Mark Hurd three weeks ago).

‘Before I go into my final closing comments, I did want to introduce Steve Fieler,’ she commented. ‘Steve Fieler is our new VP of IR, who you will all hopefully meet in the next 30 to 60 days.’

Burns handled the third-quarter call; the plan is for Fieler to take over the earnings process for the fourth quarter. Burns’ new role will be vice president of finance for HP's enterprise business.