Bernstein Research

Where will Hurd go next?

August 9, 2010: 6:04 PM ET

Mark Hurd's departure is mired in muck, but C-suite headhunters are sure to focus less on the rumors than on the possibilities.

Yes, I know. The focus is supposed to be on who will be the next CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Quite right. The company is nuts to suggest it won't skip a beat with Mark Hurd's resignation last week. A new CEO will shake up the senior-management ranks, and the reverberations will be felt well down the line.

And yet, it's equally tantalizing to speculate where Hurd will end up. Apparently, he can.

Toni Sacconaghi, the respected Bernstein Research analyst who has analyzed HP's stock about as long as I've been interviewing its CEOs, devoted a section of a report this morning to the subject. The emphasis is mine:

We suspect that HP's competitors will look to take advantage of the leadership void at HP, particularly in large enterprise deals, which could have a modest impact on financials until a new CEO is named. Moreover, we note that Mark Hurd has no employment restrictions, which raises the question of whether he could serve in some capacity (Board member, Executive, consultant) at an HP competitor.

No employment restrictions? Wow. (Sacconaghi says HP told him this directly. HP says: "Mark Hurd is subject to a two-year Agreement Regarding Confidential Information and Proprietary Developments, which is intended to prevent Mark from engaging in conflicting business activities or soliciting customers, employees or suppliers.")  In other words, there'd be a tussle if the competition with HP were too direct.

First, let's first explore if he's employable. More

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