HP chief faces tough questions at annual meeting

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HP chief executive Mark Hurd underwent a grilling from investors at the company's annual general meeting this week.

Hurd faced questions on increased competition in the server space, after Cisco's announcement that it is entering the market in partnership with VMware, and rumours that IBM may buy Sun Microsystems.

The HP chief claimed that he was unconcerned by the Cisco move, and refused to comment on the speculation about IBM and Sun.

"I do not remember a day where the market wasn't competitive. I think you'll continue to see competition in the market," Hurd told the meeting. "I couldn't be more confident in the future of HP."

The agenda for the meeting contained just two official items: the re-election of board members; and the choice of a new accounting firm. Hurd then faced questions from shareholders, one of which concerned his own pay, and in particular the US$42m bonus he has received.

Hurd said that figure was tied to HP's performance over the past three years, and that he did not expect to make as much in the coming years.

Another question concerned how Apple, a company with a research and development budget one third the size of HP's, could have a better market capitalisation.

Hurd maintained that Apple was very competitive, and said that he is researching ways to bring more technology to market from HP Labs over the coming year.

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