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Exclusive: Former HP stars Bradley, Donatelli on brink of exit - sources

Todd Bradley, Hewlett-Packard's Executive Vice President, Personal Systems Group, poses for photographs during a presentation in Berlin, Jun
Todd Bradley, Hewlett-Packard's Executive Vice President, Personal Systems Group, poses for photographs during a presentation in Berlin, Jun

By Nadia Damouni, Nicola Leske and Edwin Chan

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two of Hewlett-Packard Co's most powerful executives, until they were sidelined by CEO Meg Whitman, are preparing to leave the company in the coming weeks, several sources say.

Todd Bradley and Dave Donatelli have been interviewing for potential jobs for several months, four sources familiar with the situation said.

The men accepted a deal of new stock options in exchange for a quiet exit, two of the sources said.

The departures of two HP veterans who pre-dated Whitman may strengthen her grip on the company, midway through a five-year plan to try and turn around the once-dominant Silicon Valley computing icon.

Former PC chief Bradley and ex-enterprise group chief Donatelli, once rising stars at the computing giant, are now waiting for restricted stock to vest under the undisclosed agreement.

Bradley is expected to leave HP at the end of February, with about $12 million in hand as part of the vesting agreement, the sources said. Donatelli is expected to remain with HP until March, receiving $8 million to $10 million, the sources said.

The deals were struck last summer and one person said the delayed departure was an attempt to minimize publicity.

Bradley and Donatelli, long considered by industry watchers as contenders for top jobs at companies ranging from Dell to Juniper Networks, are among the highest-profile casualties of a deep restructuring kicked off by Whitman when she took the helm in 2011.

Bradley once headed HP's single largest division, personal computers and devices, which has shrunk or stalled for years and was recently deposed by Lenovo Inc as the largest PC maker. He was replaced in June and charged with improving its China business.

In late summer, after Donatelli's enterprise division posted a 9-percent decline in fiscal third-quarter sales, Donatelli was replaced and tasked with identifying early-stage technologies for investment after Whitman blamed the enterprise business for HP's poor quarterly results.

One of the sources said Donatelli argued for a spinoff of his division, an idea Whitman scotched. HP declined to comment.

"The reason Todd and Dave were removed from their positions is because they were not making progress fast enough on the turnaround, and Meg wanted new leadership in those roles," HP spokesman Michael Thacker said on Tuesday, for the first time publicly commenting on the reason for their change in jobs.

Thacker declined to confirm their departure or comment on whether the men had received options in exchange for a quiet exit.

Neither executive responded to requests for comment.

Two sources who spoke to both executives said they disagreed with aspects of Whitman's vision, which involved transforming HP into a provider of servers, storage and networking to corporations, rather than taking on Apple Inc. or Samsung in mobile computing.

When asked about such differences, Thacker said the board and executive leadership, including Donatelli and Bradley, were aligned with Whitman's strategy.

Both executives had stopped regularly going in to work at HP months ago, two sources said. Thacker stressed they were still working for HP.

It is unclear where the two executives will go, but both have been actively interviewing with companies and headhunters in the past months, the sources said.

Bradley oversaw the ill-fated and short-lived TouchPad tablet in 2011, a six-week effort that ranks as one of HP's most embarrassing duds in the consumer electronics arena. At the time, under then-CEO Leo Apotheker, the company was considering a spinoff of its PC business.

"Meg retained a lot of the incumbents in place for a while," one of the sources said, adding that the departures reflected the executives' performance, not a general housecleaning.

(Editing by Peter Henderson and Bernadette Baum)

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