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Meg Whitman steps down from HP Inc board

Meg Whitman is stepping down from HP Inc’s board as chairwoman, and announced that Chip Berg, who previously worked at Procter and Gamble, has been elected as the new independent chairman.

“HP has been a standalone company for almost two years, and I’m proud to have helped get the company off to a great start,” said Whitman.

Dion Weisler, HP president and chief executive officer, said: “Meg was instrumental in the formation of HP and in helping us to navigate early life as a separate company, bringing essential experience and continuity of leadership to our entire team.

“I will be forever grateful to Meg for her many contributions. She is a terrific friend and advisor and will remain so as we continue executing on our strategy of reinvention. I very much look forward to working closely with Chip as our new chairman as we shepherd HP into the future.”

Berg, who has been president and chief executive officer of Levi Strauss & Co since September 2011, said: “We have a diverse and top-performing board and we are well positioned to continue increasing long-term value for shareholders.”

The challenges now for HP Inc are twofold. The company reported 10% increase in personal systems sales for the quarter compared with the same period in 2016, but in a transcript of the second quarter 2017 earnings call posted on the Seeking Alpha financial blogging site, HP Inc’s CFO, Cathie Lesjak, described how the company was taking a “prudent outlook” to business growth.

She said the company was trying to take into consideration the political uncertainties surrounding Brexit and US policies, together with the uncertainty in the PC market around commodity pricing and commodity availability.

Beyond these uncertainties, HP Inc also wants to shift its commercial business from one-off purchases to longer term contracts covering renewal of hardware. “We are seeing the move from transactional to contractual, but it is not at a rate that says it’s going to be really material,” said Lesjak.

In September 2016, HP Inc announced it was acquiring Samsung’s printing business, which it said would boost its stake in the A3 multi-function printing market. Printing is one of the parts of the business where HP Inc sees as a good opportunity to sell hardware contracts.

During the second quarter earnings call, Weisler said: “More customers want to have a contractual relationship, and when we provide them the capability to do that across their personal systems and print platforms, it’s always a different kind of conversation.

“I expect it is a trend that will continue but, as Cathie mentions, it doesn’t become absolutely material for some time in the future,” he added.

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