Walter Hewlett has filed a lawsuit which, if successful, could overturn or void the Hewlett Packard (HP) shareholder vote that looks to have backed its $19bn merger with Compaq.
The suit accuses HP executives of improperly enticing a large institutional investor to support the deal.
Hewlett, the HP director who led the campaign against the merger, called for a speedy review of the reasons why Deutsche Asset Management appeared to switch the bulk of its votes in favour of the merger just minutes before the voting deadline.
The company represents one of HP's largest institutional shareholders, and its block of more than 25 million shares accounts for 1.31 per cent of HP's stock.
Although the final result of the vote will not be known for weeks, even HP admitted that the margin of support for the deal was probably less than one per cent.
Given the narrowness of the result the lawsuit contends that the last minute switch could have turned the final result.
Deutsche Asset Management had originally decided to vote more than 25 million shares against the merger, but at the last minute switched as many as 17 million votes in favour, according to the lawsuit.
It also claims that HP delayed its shareholder meeting on 19 March by half an hour in order to secure these last minute votes.
HP executives managed to change the Deutsche Asset Management votes, the suit contends, by persuading it that voting against the deal would mean losing out on valuable future business with HP.
In the days before the vote, HP added Deutsche Bank as a co-arranger on a $4bn revolving credit line.
Hewlett's suit seeks either to invalidate all those votes backing the merger, or to hold a new vote.
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