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Mistake on Proxy Ballots Hits Wall Street Like Bomb

Cupertino, Calif. ( — Embarrassed company officials today revealed that a typographical error on the ballots used to cast votes in the proposed deal between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer has inadvertently caused the two companies to merde.

HP proxy ballot

Observers said the incident is unprecedented in the annals of corporate typography, and potentially much more damaging than the Royal Bank of Scotland's hostile makeover of NatWest last year — in which 8,000 retail stockbrokers were forcibly given fuller lips — or the Roman Catholic Church's 1999 Initial Pubic Offering, which of course turned out not to be a typo at all.

HP Chief Executive Carly Fiorina, who Tuesday had declared a slim victory in her battle to finalize the largest merger in computer company history, downplayed the result as a "minor development." But many analysts disagreed, saying that finally, something had happened to make the HP-Compaq deal remotely interesting.

What the vote means legally, however, remains unclear.

"There's really nothing to compare this to," said Goldman Sachs technology analyst Milton Barnes: "All we know for sure is, right now, instead of having $20 billion worth of merger, we have $20 billion worth of merde."

Replied Walter Hewlett, an HP board member and the main opponent of the deal, "That's what we've been saying would happen all along."

Fiorina, meanwhile, refused to speculate on what the mistake might mean for her career, although she insisted it would not affect Compaq chief executive Michael Capellas, who under the agreement was destined to be No. 2 anyway.


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