Hewlett Packard's (HP's) controversial $19bn deal to acquire Compaq won majority support in the shareholder vote, according to preliminary results released by HP yesterday.
But with a pending lawsuit and federal investigations underway, the troubled merger still has some major hurdles to clear.
According to HP, an independent count of the votes had the holders of approximately 837.9 million shares in favour of the deal and 792.6 million against; a difference of about 2.7 per cent of the votes cast.
Just after voting closed, both sides claimed that the results would be close with HP confident that it had won with a narrow margin.
Embattled chairman and chief executive Carly Fiorina greeted the preliminary result optimistically. "We are eager to put this difficult period behind us and look forward to doing business as the new HP," she said in a statement.
The company also pointed out that almost half of the votes against the deal were affiliated with the Hewlett and Packard families and their foundations.
Renegade former HP board member Walter Hewlett, who through his foundation led the campaign against the deal, greeted the results by stating that a recount can still be called and that a court case could dismiss the validity of some or all of the votes.
Hewlett also cast doubt on the voting process as well as the latest result. In a statement made through the William Hewlett Revocable Trust, he indicated that a recount looked possible.
"These are preliminary results and both sides will have the opportunity to examine and challenge the proxy tabulation prior to final certification," the statement read.
A recount is expected to take at least a week to complete and would still remain open to additional challenges, according to HP.
The statement also maintained that, regardless of the vote tally, the merger cannot be cleared until Hewlett's pending lawsuit, which claims that HP used financial inducements to win key votes from institutional investors, has been heard. The case is set for 23 April.
HP, which has strongly denied the accusations, said earlier this week that it is also under investigation by the US Attorney's Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the votes of key shareholders.
Nevertheless, in an open letter to HP employees Fiorina said she still expects the deal to close in early May.
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