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HP settles with former CEO Hurd

By David Goldman, staff writer


NEW  YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Hewlett-Packard said Monday that it has settled its lawsuit against Mark Hurd, the company's ousted CEO, after the tech giant claimed he breached his separation agreement by taking a job at rival Oracle.

As part of the settlement, Hurd agreed to waive his rights to more than 340,000 shares of HP stock, worth at least $15.3 million, which his separation agreement allowed him to claim as a performance reward. Hurd will get to keep the $12.2 million in cash that he received as severance.

Hurd resigned from HP (HPQ, Fortune 500) in mid-August after a sex-related scandal, in which the CEO was cleared of sexual harassment charges but was accused of abusing his power.

Hurd was then hired as Oracle's co-president two weeks ago, after Oracle CEO Larry Ellison blasted HP for ousting him. He quickly dove into his role at Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500), appearing on a conference call with analysts on Thursday and at the company's OpenWorld developer conference on Monday.

At the time of his hiring, HP said Hurd had put its "most valuable trade secrets and confidential information in peril."

HP's settlement with Hurd lets both sides back away from an awkward confrontation. Under California laws, non-compete are generally unenforceable; experts say HP would have had a very hard time winning its case against Hurd. But the acrimony of the fight and the threat of a drawn-out lawsuit were straining relations between two companies that can't afford to engage in too much warfare: Oracle and HP estimate that they share 140,000 customers.

As an added bonus, Hurd's stock concession lets his former employer save some face after its widely blasted decision to let Hurd walk away with a severance package worth as much as $40 million.

Hurd can afford to leave some of his HP millions on the table. Oracle welcomed its new co-president with an annual salary just shy of $1 million and the potential to earn a bonus of up to $10 million this year.  To top of page

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