Hewlett-Packard, the computer manufacturer which has just fired its second chief executive in two years, has hired Goldman Sachs to help defend itself from activist shareholders who may agitate for reform at the company.
The mighty investment bank has been brought in amid rumours that activist investors including the billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn are considering building a powerful stake in the company.
The activists have been attracted by the strategic chaos at the company, which lost more than one-fifth of its value when it unveiled a plan to sell off its PC manufacturing business, stop production of tablet computers and buy the UK software firm Autonomy. Last week, it fired its short-lived chief executive, Leo Apotheker, and replaced him with the former eBay boss Meg Whitman.
Goldman's bankers have been used by other high profile companies, including the stock markets group NYSE Euronext and internet pioneer Yahoo, to help formulate defences against unwanted outside pressures such as takeovers and rebel shareholders.
HP refused to comment on the brief it has given Goldman, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. A spokesman for the tech company said: "We have long-term relationships with a large number of investment banks."