HP board and auditors sued by investors over autonomy deal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 11:21am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 11:27am

Hewlett-Packard’s directors and auditors were sued by shareholders in federal court in San Jose, California, over alleged misstatements related to the company’s purchase of Autonomy Corporation.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday on behalf of the company, also names Mike Lynch, founder of the British software maker Hewlett- Packard bought last year. Deloitte and KPMG were named as defendants, along with chief executive Meg Whitman and former Hewlett-Packard officers and directors including and ex-chief executive Leo Apotheker.

Hewlett-Packard said on November 20 that US$5 billion of an US$8.8 billion writedown was due to falsified accounting practices at Autonomy, which were disclosed by a senior Autonomy executive.

Hewlett-Packard said it referred the matter to US and UK securities regulators and will also pursue civil litigation.

“Simply stated, HP grossly overpaid for Autonomy,” according to the complaint. During and after the acquisition, the defendants “consistently misled the public with improper statements” concerning the due diligence performed to value Autonomy, and the benefits and assets of the purchase, according to the complaint.

Michael Kuczkowski, a spokesman for Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Ricciardi v. Lynch, 12-cv-06003, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).