HP is splitting itself into two publicly traded companies, divorcing the rising enterprise business from personal systems and, possibly, making it easier for either half to make deals.
The Wall Street Journal broke the story Sunday, and HP made the plan official this morning. The company’s PC and printer businesses would become a company called HP Inc., with Dion Weisler as president and CEO. Meg Whitman, HP’s current CEO, would chair this new company.
Servers, software, networking, and the Helion cloud platform would become Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, with Whitman as CEO and Pat Russo, a current HP board member and the former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, as chair.
Both companies would still be large enough to make the Fortune 50 list, HP’s press release implies. The deal is expected to close within HP’s fiscal 2015, which ends in October 2015.
Where HP Networking Fits In
Networking represents just a sliver of HP’s revenues (a $2.7 billion per year run rate as of the July quarter, compared the company’s total run rate of more like $114 billion) but might have been a motivation for this split. HP and EMC had discussed a merger, VMware being the real prize, but Re/Code speculates that EMC balked at being tied to HP’s low-margin PC and printer business.
The separation would let Hewlett-Packard Enterprise continue its emphasis on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), areas some analysts recently pegged as possible acquisition vectors for HP. Note, though, that Hewlett-Packard Enterprise would still include at least one struggling business: Enterprise Services, formerly known as EDS, which HP acquired for $14 billion in 2008.
On a side note, the split would seem to throw cold water on the possibility of HP buying Big Switch Networks or Pluribus this week. SDNCentral caught rumors late Friday that one of those startups was on the verge of being acquired, but it seems like a complicated time for HP to go out and buy anything.