If Hewlett-Packard Co.’s bid to acquire Compaq Computer Corp. overcomes shareholder disapproval and regulatory hoops, new Compaq CFO Jeff Clarke, 39, looks sure to have a job, even though HP finance chief Bob Wayman has been named CFO of the combined company.
Clarke will co-lead the merger integration team with Webb McKinney, president of HP’s business consumer division. Experts say this position is increasingly used to keep the No. 2 CFO on board until a larger role can be found. The deal is expected to close by June 2002.
“It’s kind of the consolation prize, but it’s a very important position,” says Rucker McCarty, head of The CFO Practice at Heidrick & Struggles. “This type of role usually means they’re hoping to find the right place for him after the deal is done.”
Past merger history shows otherwise. Former Monsanto CFO Gary Crittenden, for example, led the integration effort with Pharmacia Upjohn, but left for American Express Co. just six weeks after the deal closed. Former Time Inc. CFO Richard Bressler was on the AOL merger team, but left for the CFO spot at Viacom Inc. after working only briefly for AOL finance chief J. Michael Kelly. Meanwhile, Texaco Inc. CFO Patrick Lynch, 63, is co-leading the integration effort with his Chevron counterpart, but plans to retire once the deal closes and Chevron CFO John Watson takes the top spot.
Clarke may also have a chance at the top spot. Says Megan Graham-Hackett, an equity analyst at Standard & Poor’s: “If I heard a year from now that Bob Wayman was retiring, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.”