HP/COMPAQ: HP/Compaq trial adjourns; decision due soon

A court trial in which Hewlett-Packard director Walter Hewlett challenged a vote in favor of HP's merger with Compaq Computer ended today, with a ruling expected soon from the judge who presided over the three-day proceedings.

There were no closing remarks, and Judge William Chandler III instructed the attorneys in the case to file their closing briefs by midnight tomorrow.

Chandler said he understood the time constraints in the case, referring to HP's plan to launch the merger May 7 and the fact that HP is holding its annual meeting tomorrow in Cupertino, Calif. He said he would have a decision as soon as possible.

The final witness was Boeing Co. Chairman and CEO Phil Condit, who is also an HP director. Condit further bolstered HP's claims that documents questioned by Walter Hewlett were planning estimates and were not needed by the board or shareholders in making a decision on the merger. Hewlett's lawyer suggested that the documents, prepared by middle managers from HP and Compaq, were kept from shareholders because they predicted overly pessimistic financial results if the companies should merge.

Earlier in the day, HP Chairwoman and CEO Carly Fiorina was again called to testify on a conference call between HP and officials of Deutsche Bank AG. During the trial, Hewlett's lawyer tried to show that HP pressured Deutsche Bank to switch millions of votes to favor the merger. Fiorina denied that any pressure was placed on Deutsche Bank to support the merger.

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