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Meg Whitman to be named new head of H-P, report says

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Meg Whitman

eBay’s former chief executive Meg Whitman will be named CEO of troubled tech giant Hewlett-Packard after the markets close Thursday, according to a report.

Whitman, if appointed, would replace H-P’s current chief executive Leo Apotheker. Rumors swirled Wednesday that Apotheker would be replaced at the helm of the beleaguered Silicon Valley giant.

According to the report on the AllThingsD.com website:

“The full board of HP, which is meeting today in Silicon Valley, has not officially voted on [the] move and the situation could certainly change, sources said it is nearly a done deal.”

Whitman, 55, was CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008 and then ran for governor of California, winning the Republican primary but losing to Jerry Brown in the general election. She spent $178 million of her own money on the campaign.

She has a personal net worth estimated at $1.3 billion, according to the latest edition of the Forbes 400 published Wednesday.

Whitman is an “executive who is eager to get back in the game,” AllThingsD.com’s Kara Swisher told CNBC Thursday. “She has been on the board of H-P since January, so she’s not to blame for the disaster that has been occurring there. She’s fresh in a lot of ways, and she’s someone who would be considered and want to do it.”

If Apotheker is let go he would be the third CEO in a row to be ousted by the board of the tech giant.

HP's board convened Thursday "to consider a host of issues, including jettisoning Apotheker, who in less than a year on the job has slashed sales forecasts several times, backtracked on promises to integrate Palm's webOS software into devices, and struggled to halt a 50 percent plunge in the share price," Reuters reported.

Mark Hurd was ousted last year after a scandal involving expense reports and a female contractor. Carly Fiorina eventually was dismissed after investors blamed her for betting on a fading PC industry by buying Compaq.

Reports say the odds may have been stacked against Apotheker from the beginning. Venture capitalist Ray Lane, who this year assumed chairmanship of an often-lambasted but powerful board, has argued that previous management underinvested in areas including software and services, according to Reuters.

Last month, HP announced a new strategic shift, virtually abandoning the consumer market by killing off its line of mobile devices including the TouchPad and saying it may spin off its massive PC division.