HP/COMPAQ: Putnam will vote in favour of merger

Hewlett-Packard received another vote of confidence Wednesday in its bid to acquire Compaq, with a large institutional shareholder saying that it will back the deal.

Putnam Investments, one of the largest shareholders of both HP and Compaq stock, issued a statement in favor of the proposed union, marking a vote of support in a hotly contested battle.

"We believe the merger enhances the combined companies' strategic and competitive positions and offers financial benefits to shareholders," the company said in the statement. "Therefore we believe long term shareholder value will be enhanced as a result of the combination."

Putnam said it holds 46.2 million HP shares, equivalent to about 2.4 percent of the Palo Alto, California-based company's outstanding stock. The company also owns 68.9 million shares of Houston-based Compaq, and confirmed in January that it planned to vote those in favor of the deal.

A number of large investors have already voiced their opinion on the proposed merger ahead of the HP shareholder vote, set for March 19. While those inventors have weighed in both for and against the deal, organizations associated with the Hewlett and Packard families hold the largest sway on the vote to date, saying they will hedge close 18 percent of HP shares against the deal.

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