HP Canada chief: We’ll stand by all product lines

VANCOUVER — While the final outcome of its US$22 billion merger plan with Compaq is far from certain, the president of Hewlett-Packard Canada Ltd. has pledged to support all products affected

by the deal.

In an exclusive interview from the show floor of Comdex Vancouver, Paul Tsaparis said a number of the two firms’ 900-member integration team started working early in Canada to make sure the merger would be successful outside its Cupertino, Calif.-based headquarters.

“They are working on a new product plan and other things such as Web site that will be ready to go on Day 1 one of the new company,”” Tsaparis said. “”(They’re) also working on payroll so every employee receives their cheques.”

Despite claims of victory from HP and Compaq, the final vote of HP shareholders is not expected for several weeks.

Tsaparis acknowledged that mergers rarely double of the market share of the two partners. Inevitably, competitors take advantage of any confusion over the deal.

“That is exactly why the integration team started early,” Tsaparis said. “Since the merger was announced last September, HP’s company results have dramatically exceed expectations and Compaq has (also) announced results that have exceeded financial expectations. In our view, that is the best possible indicator that the employees of both HP and Compaq are focusing on the customer and the resellers out there.”

Maintaining market share was HP’s No. 1 priority when entering into the merger agreement with Compaq. “It is also our No. 1 priority to keep customer service levels high and keep the customer focus high and in turn the revenue will come along with that.”

Tsaparis was not overly concerned about several product lines that may overlap if the merger is approved. “The rapid pace of change in the industry triggered by new Intel chips and Microsoft operating systems has made users accustomed to change,”” he said. “”Whatever the plan is for HP and Compaq products they are willing to accept it.”

The battle between company chief executive Carly Fiorina and HP’s management against the Hewlett family has been public and confrontational, Tsaparis admitted, adding that the company has already started to try and make amends.

If the deal goes through, the new HP/Compaq entity will be an US$87 billion technology company. It will also be the leading vendor in enterprise storage, he said, and the leading vendor in the Unix marketplace.

The key stat, however, will be in IT services, where the combined HP/Compaq will be third overall in the market behind its chief rival, IBM Global Services.

Tsaparis also believes that the new entity will increase its market share in the printer market — a market HP has dominated for well over a decade.

“We cannot sustain ourselves standing still,” Tsaparis said, quoting HP founder David Packard.

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