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By | Gavin Clarke 6th August 2010 21:39

HP's Hurd quits quickly on sexual harassment probe

'Painful decision, difficult to continue'

HP boss Mark Hurd has resigned suddenly following allegations of sexual harassment.

Hurd quit the $17m-a-year chief executive, chairman, and president post on Friday immediately following an investigation into claims of sexual harassment brought by a former HP contractor.

HP said there'd been no violation of its sexual harassment policy, but the investigation did find violations of standards of business conduct.

In a statement Hurd called his exit painful but necessary.

"As the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career," Hurd said

"This is a painful decision for me to make after five years at HP, but I believe it would be difficult for me to continue as an effective leader at HP."

HP has named chief financial officer Cathie Lesjak, a 24-year HP veteran, as interim CEO while the board searches for a new, full-time chief and chairman. Lesjak ruled herself out of contention for the CEO's spot.

It has been reported that HP became aware that a contractor made the sexual-harassment claim two weeks ago.

The findings of the investigation were that Hurd had a close personal relationship with a female contractor hired by the CEO’s office, with the relationship never disclosed to the board. The contractor received compensation although there had been no justified business reason, and improper expense reports had been submitted by Hurd.

Hurd's exit will be a major blow for HP, which named him CEO in 2005 to help build order and growth from the era of chaos and bitterness that characterized predecessor Carly Fiorina's reign. A 25-year veteran of NCR, Hurd cultivated a reputation of efficient execution while keeping a low personal profile.

During his time, Hurd improved HP's financial performance, market share and operating efficiency. ®

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