Hewlett Packard-Autonomy Dispute Deepens with Fraud Allegation

The long-running
dispute between US computer giant Hewlett Packard (HP) and Autonomy
triggered by HP’s ill-fated takeover of the UK company in 2011 has escalated as HP said Autonomy’s founder and former chief executive (CEO), Mike Lynch, “should be held accountable for fraud”.

In its latest court document HP also cites Sushovan Hussain, chief financial officer (CFO) at Autonomy from 2001 to 2012, who it alleges was “one of the chief architects of the massive fraud on HP”.

The San Francisco court filing also said that shareholders and HP management agree “that [Mr] Hussain, along with Autonomy’s founder and CEO, Michael Lynch, should be accountable for this fraud”.

HP agreed to buy Autonomy for US$11.1bn (£6.8bn) in August 2011 in the biggest-ever takeover of a UK technology company, but a year later claimed that the company was worth US$8.8bn less.

HP attributed more than US$5bn of the write-off to what it called a “willful effort on behalf of certain former Autonomy employees to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company in order to mislead investors and potential buyers.”

HP shareholders originally planned to sue the group’s management over the deal, but the latest filing confirms they have dropped their claims and will instead “assist HP in pursuing the perpetrators of the fraud, who inflicted billions of dollars of harm on the company”.

A spokesperson representing Lynch and Hussain responded with a caustic statement: “This breathless ranting from HP is the sort of personal smear we’ve come to expect. As the emotional outbursts go up, the access to facts seems to go down.”

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