HP/COMPAQ: Key analyst report delayed until next week

Institutional investor advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) has postponed until early next week a report expected to significantly influence shareholder voting on Hewlett-Packard Co.'s planned acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp.

ISS issues voting recommendations on proxy issues for institutional shareholders, such as pension and mutual fund managers. Institutional investors own 57 percent of HP's shares, and 23 percent of HP shareholders subscribe to ISS, according to HP. With shareholders owning around 20 percent of HP publicly committed to voting against the Compaq acquisition, winning ISS' endorsement on the deal is critical if it is to pass.

ISS had planned to release its report this week, but will instead issue its recommendation Monday or Tuesday. The company is "tying up loose ends," said Patrick McGurn, ISS' vice president and director of corporate programs. The postponement will give ISS time to examine information disclosed Wednesday at HP's meeting with securities analysts and to address the compensation issues raised earlier this week by proxy fight leader Walter Hewlett, McGurn said.