Fiorina ally to quit HP

One of Carly Fiorina's top lieutenants is preparing to leave Hewlett-Packard, less than one week after the US computer and printer maker fired its chief executive.

Allison Johnson, senior vice-president for marketing, is set to assume a similar role at Apple Computer, a move that HP said was not related to Ms Fiorina's departure.

?These events are independent. Allison resigned from the company prior to Carly's departure, the company said.

Ms Johnson's role at HP far outstripped her job title. She was akin to a chief of staff to Mr Fiorina and was one of the embattled chief executive's fiercest defenders. She led HP's proxy campaign during the company's much maligned effort to take over rival Compaq Computer in 2002. She also championed the company's subsequent ?+HP = everything is possible? advertising campaign.

HP said Ms Johnson resigned on February 4 but was asked to stay on until after the company reports first quarter earnings this week. Her last day at HP is February 18. Ms Johnson was unavailable for comment.

Apple said Ms Johnson will serve as vice-president of worldwide marketing communications and will work with Steve Jobs, the group's chief executive, on the company's ?advertising, marketing communications and creative services?.

Ms Johnson had previously worked as a contractor for Apple and held positions at IBM and Netscape Communications before joining HP in 1999. She was responsible for HP's corporate advertising, brand management, sponsorships, media relations, as well as internal and executive communications. She also oversaw the group's marketing communications council.

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