Packard family launches personal attack on Fiorina

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The battle between Hewlett-Packard and its founders' family members over its proposed $25bn merger with Compaq Computer intensified yesterday when David Packard said in a full-page newspaper advertisement that Hewlett-Packard was misusing his father's words.

Mr Packard's advertisement, which ran in the Wall Street Journal, accuses Hewlett-Packard's chief executive, Carly Fiorina, of misappropriating the words of his father "to remain static is to lose ground" in the company's new advertising campaign.

Mr Packard's response comes less than a week after Hewlett-Packard took out a two-page spread in US newspapers that featured pictures of its founders, Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett, and argued that the two men would have wanted the merger.

Mr Packard said in the advertisement: "As a professional marketer you (Ms Fiorina) know how to enhance your message by invoking the image of an admired person. But my father's quote has no relevance to your argument."

He ended by saying: "You recall another one of my father's favourite sayings: 'More companies die of indigestion than starvation'. There is now a real danger that HP will die of a broken heart."

Mr Packard, who controls a 1.3 per cent Hewlett-Packard stake through the Packard Humanities Institute, last spoke out about the merger in December when he responded to a Hewlett-Packard advertising campaign by arguing that he and other founding family members were not opposed to change at the business.

The move solidifies Mr Packard's role in a public war of words with Hewlett-Packard that is also being waged by Walter Hewlett, the son of the company's other founder, who owns about 5 per cent of the company. He is actively fighting for shareholders to vote against the merger in a campaign aimed at both institutional and retail investors.

Mr Hewlett and other critics of the merger argue that the creation of a personal computer behemoth will dilute the profits of Hewlett-Packard's printing business. The companies say the merger will enable them to build a company that can compete with leading computer maker IBM.

In addition to Mr Packard and Mr Hewlett, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has said it intends to vote its 10 per cent stake against the merger, creating an 18 per cent block.

The companies say they are pressing on with their plans to merge and, according to Compaq, are planning to hold the shareholder vote in March.

Neither Hewlett-Packard or Mr Packard were available for comment.