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HP is in good health and ready to rock as two separate companies, says CEO Meg Whitman. The spirits were high at the annual HP Discover conference in Barcelona, as Meg Whitman reported on what she called an "eventful year" for the company.

And the CEO has plenty of reasons to be proud: during her tenure, HP has gone from being deep in the red - with a net debt of almost US$12 billion in 2011 - to making a profit and even saving some cash.

Although the total number of lay-offs under Whitman is expected to reach 29,000 before the end of the year, R&D investments are up 10 percent, while the new server products like the Apollo or Moonshot are really capturing the imagination of the public, if not the wallet.

"HP has turned a corner and we are coming back, we are coming back very strong," said Whitman.

But getting HP into a good financial state is just the start - in less than 12 months, the 75-year old IT juggernaut will split into two Fortune 50 companies: HP Incorporated (HP Inc.) and HP Enterprise (HPE). The former will sell 'personal systems' and printers, while the latter will focus on servers, storage, networking and corporate services.

Like a phoenix... or a battleship
"The separation is the right next step in the great HP turnaround story, to further build our reputation as the Silicon Valley cfounder," said Whitman. "With these changes, we will simply serve you better. We will read the winds and change course much faster. I often say  that HP brings the resources of a battleship, while moving like a speedboat. So now think about us as two new, faster, more manoeuvrable vessels, each with specialised missions.

"Both companies will be built for speed, both will be built for you. And rest assured that the leadership running these two companies will be experienced and highly qualified."

The split is expected to take place at the beginning of HP's next fiscal year, in November 2015. Whitman, who has served as the CEO of HP since 2011, will take charge of the enterprise-focused business. Dion Weisler, the current executive vice president of HP's Printing and Personal Systems, will be appointed as the CEO of HP Inc, and Whitman will become the chairwoman.

"While we undergo this separation, know that the HP strategy remains the same - to provide solutions for the 'new style of IT'. To me, the new style of IT is actually a new style of business that is powered by IT. And we want to be the best technology partner on the planet for each and every one of you," promised Whitman.

Services is the great connector
She told the audience that HP used its own business tools to engineer the turnaround of the company over the past three years and this, she claimed, served as a testament that these tools will work for its customers. She also highlighted the importance of the services division, which is likely to receive more prominence as part of HPE. "Great technical infrastructure and software is an HP hallmark, but without services, our proposition would not be the HP proposition. Services is the great connector."