UK Serious Fraud Office Investigating HP Autonomy Acquisition

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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SFO confirms that it is investating alleged accounting mispractices

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating the HP Autonomy takeover, according to a filing made with the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The SFO has confirmed that it is investigating, but warned that the opening of criminal proceedings does not necessarily mean that there has been any wrongdoing.

HP announced an $8.8 billion (£5.3 billion writedown on the value of Autonomy in November, having accused Autonomy’s senior management team of improper accounting practices designed to inflate the price it paid for the Cambridge-based developer, which it acquired for $10.3 billion (£6.7bn) in 2011.

HP Autonomy investigation

mikelynchHP passed on the findings of an internal investigation to UK and US authorities. The FBI has launched its own investigation, while the US Department of Justice is also looking to the matter. Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch vehemently denies the allegations and earlier this year said HP was backtracking from its claims.

The issue of the Autonomy takeover is likely to be brought up at HP’s annual general meeting in California later this week. Two shareholder advisory groups, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, have called for investors to vote against the re-election of HP Chairman Ray Lane and two of the longest serving directors, Marc Andreesen and Rajiv Gupta as a result of the acquisition.

However Gupta has sent a letter to shareholders warning that losing directors so suddenly could destabilise the company. He said that HP needed consistency of leadership and that voting against certain members of the board was not in the best interests of stockholders.

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