In case you haven’t noticed, things haven’t been going very well for HP (HPQ) lately and the company’s shareholders this week nearly voted to oust three members of its board of directors. As Bloomberg notes, three board members received less than 60% of the vote in the most recent shareholder referendum just one year after all of them were comfortably reelected with votes of 80% or higher. Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told Bloomberg that such high negative vote totals are rare and that HP will likely have to force some members of its board to step down if it wants to retain any credibility with its shareholders.
“If the company wants to put on more than a cynical charade of listening to its stockholders, the directors will resign,” Gordon said. “Negative votes in the 30 and 40 percent range are a giant ‘no confidence’ message.”
HP CEO Meg Whitman responded to the close votes by saying that the board members have been playing a constructive role in the company and are helping to dig it out of the very large hole it’s found itself in over the past few years.
“Certainly the last three or four years have been tough,” she said. “My view on the board of directors is they are helping turn Hewlett-Packard around.”