HP board shakeup urged as British fraud investigation opens into Autonomy deal

Summary:The acquisition of Britain's leading software company was a disaster and HP's board is being blamed ahead of its annual shareholders meeting.

The British Serious Fraud Office is investigating the claims of Hewlett-Packard that it was deliberately misled in its acquisition of Autonomy, the British software firm it bought for $10 billion in 2010.

HP revealed the inquiry in a regulatory filing Monday, reported on NYTimes.com.

The PC maker reported an $8.8 billion write-off in the value of Autonomy last year.

The fallout to the disastrous deal could result in a major shakeup of HP's board as independent shareholder advisory firms recommend removal of chairman Ray Lane, a veteran Silicon Valley executive at Oracle, and four directors including Silicon Valley top VC Marc Andreessen. 

Rajiv Gupta, one of the directors named for removal, issued a letter to shareholders on Monday arguing that Mr Lane and the current board be retained.

Reuters reported:

…he highlighted Lane's global and management experience as former chief operating officer of software giant Oracle Corp.

"Losing some of our directors in an abrupt and disorderly manner could undermine our efforts to stabilize the company," Gupta, a former CEO of specialty materials maker Rohm & Haas, wrote on Monday.

Reuters said it is very rare for a serving chairman to receive a recommendation of opposition from ISS, the leading shareholder advisory firm. 

The shareholder advisory firms say that there was not enough due diligence by the board. Autonomy founder Mike Lynch denies HP's allegations of fraud.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard

About

In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to make a living as a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley.Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leadi... Full Bio

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