HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman steps down

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (NYSE:HPE) said on Tuesday that Meg Whitman was stepping down as chief executive officer after six years at the helm during which she steered the company through the biggest breakup in corporate history.

Whitman was responsible for splitting Hewlett Packard Co into HPE and PC-and-printer business HP Inc <HPQ.N> in 2015 as part of a plan to turn around the lumbering giant.

Shares of HPE fell 6.2 percent in trading after the bell. They have risen nearly 47 percent since the split up, outpacing the 27.8 percent rise in the S&P 500 index <.SPX> during the same period.

Under Whitman, HPE has aggressively shed assets and cut tens of thousand of jobs as it sharpened its focus on server and networking businesses.

She led the spin off of HPE's enterprise services and software business to British software company MicroFocus International Plc <MCRO.L> and acquired companies, including Aruba and Nimble Storage.

"The departure of Meg Whitman as CEO will likely be viewed negatively by investors, as some might have been holding out hope that she would sell the remainder of the company," CFRA analyst Angelo Zino said.

Whitman will be succeeded by company president Antonio Neri who takes over on Feb. 1.

Neri has been with the company for more than 20 years, during which he has led its technology services business and its server and networking business units.

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Zino said Neri's appointment as CEO is the most logical choice given that he runs the enterprise group, which accounts for the lion's share of HPE's sales.

HPE said Whitman will continue as a board member.

On a post-earnings call with analysts, Whitman said, "I am actually going to take a little downtime, but there's no chance I'm going to a competitor."

Whitman, who previously headed eBay Inc <EBAY.O>, was reported to have been a leading candidate for the CEO job at Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] before it was given to Dara Khosrowshahi.

Separately, the company reported net income of $524 million, or 32 cents per share, for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, compared with $302 million, or 18 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, it reported earnings of 31 cents per share. Revenue rose 4.6 percent to $7.66 billion.

Analysts were expecting fourth-quarter profit of 28 cents per share on revenue of $7.78 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Additional reporting by Akankshita Mukhopadhyay and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)