HP and shareholders bury the hatchet over Autonomy acquisition

The Boardroom

by Joe Curtis| 01 July 2014

Shareholders drop lawsuits and help HP chase former Autonomy execs.

HP agreed with shareholders last night to settle their legal dispute over the acquisition of Autonomy.

The settlement, subject to court approval, would see the shareholders and their lawyers drop their lawsuits and help HP bring claims against various Autonomy execs.

They include CEO Michael Lynch following allegations - denied - of accounting improprieties on the part of the software maker.

HP's $11.1bn deal for British firm Autonomy in 2011 triggered controversy and even government investigations when HP wrote off $8.8bn of the purchase price the following year, claiming it had found serious accounting irregularities in Autonomy's books.

Autonomy's founder and CEO, Mike Lynch, was then ousted from HP in May 2012, but has denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement posted on a website Lynch created to publicly defend himself from HP's claims, he said: "It seems Meg Whitman will be using a large sum of HP's money to avoid explaining in court why she made false allegations regarding Autonomy in November 2012.

"We continue to reject HP's allegations, and note that over recent months a number of documents have emerged that prove Meg Whitman misled her shareholders.

"We hope this matter will now move beyond a smear campaign based on selective disclosure and HP will finally give a full explanation."

HP bought Autonomy under former CEO, Leo Apotheker. He was replaced by current CEO Meg Whitman in September 2011.

While the financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed, HP's present and former directors and officers were cleared of any wrongdoing, and all claims against them will now be dismissed if the agreement receives court approval.

HP also said it is currently adopting enhanced policies and procedures that were co-drafted with the shareholders and their lawyers to evaluate future potential mergers and acquisitions.

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