IBM CEO Disses HP and Hurd, Praises Oracle and Ellison

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IBM CEO Palmisano Disses HP and Hurd Big Blue isn't bullish on Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

IBM (IBM) CEO Samuel J. Palmisano launched a verbal barrage Tuesday at rival HP and its former chief Mark Hurd, saying the legendary Silicon Valley company's golden years are in the past.

Palmisano criticized Hurd directly, as well as HP's board for the way it handled Hurd's ouster. And Palmisano took a few shots at HP's strategy as well, saying he isn't too concerned about competition from them.

"HP used to be a very inventive company," Palmisano said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He added that IBM would never have paid such a large amount for 3PAR, which HP just bought for $2.4 billion after beating out rival Dell (DELL) in a bidding war.

"[HP] had no choice," Palmisano told the paper. "Hurd cut out all the research and development."

Hurd's Exit Was Bungled

Palmisano's comments were an unusually public rebuke from a company, IBM, that has traditionally tried to stay above petty corporate squabbling. But Palmisano kept up his criticism of HP, saying the company's board bungled the exit of Hurd, awarding him a $35 million bonus only to see him join rival Oracle a month later.

"That is not a good use of shareholder money," Palmisano told the paper. "It was not handled in the best interest of shareholders."

HP and Oracle are now locked in a legal dispute over Hurd's hiring.

Keeping an Eye on Oracle

In other news, Palmisano, 60, dismissed the suggestion that he's planning to retire next year. "I am not going anywhere," he said.

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While Palmisano isn't worried about HP, he did express some concern about the competitive threat posed by Oracle, the software and services giant run by Larry Ellison.

"Oracle has cash flow and good margins," Palmisano said. "Oracle invests." Palmisano also praised Ellison, saying, "He has done a very good job."
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