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Mutual Fund Backs HP-Compaq Merger

Updated:

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) _ A mutual fund with 1.1 percent of Hewlett-Packard Co. shares has endorsed the $24.3 billion plan to buy Compaq Computer Corp., giving HP valuable support as it prepares for a proxy fight over the deal.

Lewis Sanders, vice chairman of Alliance Capital Management Holding L.P., told The Wall Street Journal he believes merging would give HP and Compaq the best chance of cutting costs and surviving consolidation in the computer and data-storage markets.

An Alliance Capital spokesman said he could not immediately confirm Lewis' comments because of Monday's holiday.

But HP spokeswoman Rebeca Robboy said the Palo Alto-based technology giant was aware of Alliance's support. Top HP executives had lobbied Alliance for its vote and plan to meet with other large shareholders in coming weeks, Robboy said.

``Our messages are resonating and we're making great progress with investors,'' she said.

As of Sept. 30, Alliance Capital was HP's 17th-largest stockholder, with more than 21 million shares.

No other large institutional investors have come out in support of the deal, which is opposed by Hewlett and Packard family interests with 18 percent of HP shares. HP board member Walter Hewlett, eldest son of one co-founder, is leading the fight against the deal.

HP and Compaq are awaiting clearance from U.S. and European regulators before announcing a date for a shareholder vote.
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