Hewlett-Packard is remaking its board of directors today. It seems to happen as regularly as forest fires that clear out the underbrush and let it all grow back. The company named five new directors and is losing four who were known to be supportive of former chief executive Mark Hurd, who was ousted in August.

Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman is joining the HP board, as is former Alcatel-Lucent chief Patricia Russo.

The move is likely aimed at consolidating support around new CEO Leo Apotheker, who replaced Hurd (Hurd was fired after the board lost confidence in him in a sexual harassment scandal). Such changes are like earthquakes at HP, which is the world’s largest technology company. And when the ground shakes under HP, the whole tech world trembles.

The changes also reflect the wishes of Ray Lane, the new chairman of HP. He said that the debate over firing Hurd “took a lot out of this board,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The four departing board members — Joel Hyatt, John Joyce, Robert Ryan, and Lucille Salhany — volunteered to go, Lane said. Ryan and Salhany oversaw the investigation of Hurd, who was found to have misstated expenses and concealed private meetings with a marketing contractor. The board took a lot of heat for firing Hurd for that transgression, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who later hired Hurd, said HP’s move was the dumbest he’d seen since Apple fired Steve Jobs years ago.

Besides Whitman (who has plenty of time on her hands since losing her bid to governor of California in last November’s election) and Russo, HP added as board members the following people: Shumeet Banerji, CEO of consulting firm Booz & Co.; Gary Reiner, former chief information officer of General Electric; and Dominique Senequier, CEO of AXA Private Equity. HP now has a total of 13 board members.

Hyatt and Joyce were Hurd’s biggest board supporters, according to the WSJ. Apotheker probably doesn’t want Hurd fans on his board of directors. Lane said each new addition has a background in a business that matters to HP.

There is always some drama associated with HP’s board, going as far back as the decision to hire outsider Carly Fiorina as CEO in the 1990s. Ellison hasn’t helped the situation, lobbing bombs at HP’s board and hiring Hurd to head Oracle’s push into hardware competition with HP.

Good luck to HP in putting these board shenanigans behind it.

Apotheker also appointed Bill Wohl, formerly of SAP, where Apotheker was CEO before, as HP’s chief communications officer. Other executives leaving the company are chief marketing officer Michael Mendenhall, chief ethics and compliance officer Jonathan Hoak, and human resources chief Marcela Perez de Alonso.

[photo credit: itfanat ]

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