Perfect timing…

Late yesterday, Hewlett Packard (HPQ) announced that it had hired R. Todd Bradley to head up the company’s personal computing unit — PCs, laptops and handhelds — which it decided to separate from the more profitable printing unit and make a standalone business once again. Bradley, 46, will receive a salary of $750K, a $1 million signing bonus and 400,000 stock options in his new role.

Of course, that’s really just the beginning of the money Bradley stands to collect. Under a 8-page separation agreement signed back in January with his previous employer, Palm One (PLMO), Bradley collected a lump-sum payment of $1.44 million provided that he remained an “employee advisor” to PalmOne through June 3. That’s the same date that Bradley’s options — approximately 215,000 at $11.20 a share — fully vested, which based on PalmOne’s current price, puts another $3.5 million in Bradley’s bank account. Perhaps the nearly two-week delay in HP’s announcement was Bradley waiting for the checks to clear.

But what’s even more interesting about the Palm agreement is the foreshadowing disguised as legal mumbo-jumbo. Buried on page 6, there’s a sentence prohibiting Bradley from taking a job with a PalmOne competitor, though it specifically spells out that competitive products “shall not include desktop computers, laptop computers or broadcast media, audio, video or music players.” Really? Those aren’t competing products? Presumably Palm is familiar with HP’s Pocket PC which given his new job description, Bradley will presumably be overseeing.