Former eBay chief executive Whitman will be tasked with halting the decline in the firm’s share price, which has tanked 50 per cent in the last twelve months.
The board is understood to have lost faith in Apotheker after he was forced to issue a string of profit warnings, as well as struggling to live up to promises to integrate recently acquired Palm’s webOS software into its devices.
Whitman will now decide whether to forge ahead with Apotheker’s radical plans to spin off HP’s huge personal computing division and refocus its operations as a software company.
Some HP investors are also said to be irked over the $10bn price tag attached to Autonomy, which it agreed to buy last month.
However, City A.M. understands it would be almost impossible for HP to pull out of the deal at this stage.
Whitman (left), who ran an ill-fated campaign for California’s governorship, took eBay from a business turning over $4m a year to one of the world’s biggest online retailers with revenues in excess of $8bn.
However, her record was blemished by her ill-fated acquisition of Skype for $4.1bn, which was later sold for $2.75bn. She has also held senior positions at The Walt Disney Company.