PALO ALTO, Calif. (

TheStreet

) -- After two days of rumor and speculation,

HP

(HPQ) - Get Report

unveiled Meg Whitman as the company's new CEO after market close, ending Leo Apotheker's brief but turbulent spell in the company's hot seat.

The No. 1 PC maker confirmed Apotheker's ouster and Whitman's appointment in a statement released after market close.

Meg Whitman

"We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman's caliber and experience step up to lead HP," said Ray Lane, executive chairman of the HP board, in the statement. "We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead."

HP confirmed that Apotheker has stepped down and resigned as a director of the company.

"I am honored and excited to lead HP," explained Whitman, in the company's statement. "I believe HP matters -- it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world."

Whitman, however, now faces the challenge of quickly drawing a line under the Apotheker era and getting HP back on track. Investors will be keen to see, for example, whether she proceeds with Apotheker's controversial vision for the company, which could include spinning off its PC business.

The former eBay chief will be closely scutinized in her new role, particularly by critics

questioned

her credentials for leading a company of HP's vast size and complexity.

Investors responded positively to the news, pushing HP's shares up 1.1% in extending trading. HP's stock, which

surged

on talk of Apotheker's ouster on Wednesday, had ended Thursday's trading down $1.18, or 4.92%, at $22.80.

--Written by James Rogers in New York

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