HP's Whitman will not sell Autonomy, EDS: sources

Despite accountancy "improprieties" and apparent financial conflicts between the teams, HP's Meg Whitman is batting away requests to buy two of its business units.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Hewlett-Packard has no plans to sell off its Autonomy and EDS business units, despite numerous offers to buy the units, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Speaking to sources familiar with the discussions, the computing giant's chief executive Meg Whitman is reportedly batting away the offers left, right and center, and will retain hold of the two units. The Journal said that HP is receiving "expressions of interest" from a range of potential buyers regularly, sources say.

Shares in HP rose by more than 4 percent at market close on the New York Stock Exchange as a result of the news. 

$HPQ at market close on January 16, after rising 4 percent on the news. Image: Google Finance

The rumors began when HP said in a 10-K filing with the SEC that the firm will "also continue to evaluate the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help us meet our objectives," language which was not included in previous filings. 

HP, which remains at the top of the PC manufacturing leaderboard, according to recent IDC figures, recently said in its fourth quarter filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Autonomy had engaged in "serious accounting improprieties" before it was bought by HP in 2011, and the computing giant ultimately had to swallow an $8.8 billion charge as a result.

The filing also noted:

When we decide to sell assets or a business, we may encounter difficulty in finding buyers or alternative exit strategies on acceptable terms in a timely manner, which could delay the achievement of our strategic objectives. We may also dispose of a business at a price or on terms that are less desirable than we had anticipated.

That sent a signal out to many to suggest that HP was going to ditch the two units, and would find a buyer to get rid of at least Autonomy. Alas, it may have not been the case.

It is thought, reports AllThingsD, that HP lawyers wanted to include the language -- despite it not representing the view of Whitman herself -- because she had reiterated numerous times that HP will remain as one giant bundle of computing love.

After all, if you had just taken an $8.8 billion shot to the face and survived, wouldn't you want to keep hold of the bullet as a memento?

We've put in questions with HP but did not hear back at the time of writing. If we hear back, we'll update the piece.

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