HP CEO Whitman Says Autonomy Will Be Last Big Software Deal

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) won’t look for big takeover targets in the software industry following its $10.3 billion purchase of Autonomy Corp., Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman said at an event in San Francisco today.

“It’s certainly the end of big acquisitions,” said Whitman, when asked whether she would continue the software expansion strategy of her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, who was ousted as CEO last month.

Whitman said the company has to pay attention to its hardware businesses, such as servers and printers.

“You don’t transform $129 billion companies,” she said at a forum to discuss California’s economic future hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California. “We have to take the most incredible assets we have and make them great.”

Yesterday, Whitman told a conference on women in leadership sponsored by Fortune magazine that Hewlett-Packard would decide whether to spin off its $41 billion personal-computer division by the end of October, pushing up the company’s timetable.

As for the economy, Whitman said it’s a “very difficult environment, particularly for a company the size of HP.” She said the Palo Alto, California, technology giant hasn’t decided yet if job cuts are needed. “I don’t know yet,” she said.

Seeking Harmony

Whitman, former CEO of EBay Inc., joined Hewlett-Packard’s board in January after a failed run for California governor in 2010. She took over as CEO of the computer maker on Sept. 22, when Apotheker was ousted after less than 11 months on the job. Whitman and Executive Chairman Ray Lane have promised to bring accord to the company’s executive suite and improve employee morale.

The Public Policy Institute of California is a nonprofit research group that studies issues including economic development, education and immigration. Walter B. Hewlett, son of Hewlett-Packard co-founder William Hewlett, is on the institute’s board, according to its website.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard gained 84 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $23.86 at 4 p.m. today on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has slumped 43 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Ricadela in San Francisco at aricadela@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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