HP requests fraud investigation into Autonomy claims

Written on:November 20, 2012
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Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman said “outright misrepresentations” about the state of Autonomy’s financial health led to HP overpaying for that company last year and Whitman is recommending civil and criminal investigations into that issue. HP took a loss of $ 6.85 billion ($ 3.49 per share) for the year ending Oct. 31, mostly related to a previously announced $ 8 billion charge related to the company’s Autonomy business.

HP bought Autonomy for $ 10.4 billion last year. Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch left HP under a cloud last quarter.

According to an HP statement posted today:

“Autonomy’s management team used accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company, prior to Autonomy’s acquisition by HP. These efforts appear to have been a willful effort to mislead investors and potential buyers, and severely impacted HP management’s ability to fairly value Autonomy at the time of the deal. We remain 100 percent committed to Autonomy and its industry-leading technology.”

Most of this charge — $ 5 billion — relates to those improprieties and HP has referred the matter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division as well as the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office for civil and criminal investigation. “In addition, HP is preparing to seek redress against various parties in the appropriate civil courts to recoup what it can for its shareholders. The company intends to aggressively pursue this matter in the months to come,” according to the statement.

After all that, Whitman said the company remains squarely behind the Autonomy business, which she characterized as a “work in progress.”

The rest of HP’s earnings release is here.


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