HP's Autonomy acquisition probed by U.K. regulators

Following investigations by the U.S. government, the U.K. is also looking into alleged fraudulent accounting by Autonomy in the lead up of its sale to HP.

Hewlett-Packard has a way of quietly announcing its dealings with Autonomy in its annual and quarterly regulatory filings.

In its quarterly report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today, the company announced that the U.K. Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into the alleged irregularities of HP's acquisition of Autonomy.

Here's what HP wrote in its filing:

As a result of the findings of an ongoing investigation, HP has provided information to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC related to the accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and misrepresentations at Autonomy that occurred prior to and in connection with HP's acquisition of Autonomy. On November 21, 2012, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice advised HP that they had opened an investigation relating to Autonomy. On February 6, 2013, representatives of the U.K. Serious Fraud Office advised HP that they had also opened an investigation relating to Autonomy. HP is cooperating with the three investigating agencies.

HP acquired the enterprise software company in August 2011 for $11.1 billion, or 11 times its annual earnings. Since the purchase, controversy , lawsuits , and an $8.8 billion charge against HP's earnings have ensued.

HP and Autonomy founder and former CEO Mike Lynch have traded arguments over who deserves the blame for Autonomy's subpar performance. In its fourth-quarter earnings released in November, HP said it discovered "extensive evidence" of fraudulent accounting and failed disclosures on Autonomy's part leading up to the sale. Consequently, Lynch set up a Web site that denies HP's charges and says HP mishandled the company after acquiring it.

The U.K.'s Financial Reporting Council also launched its own probe into HP's acquisition of Autonomy last month. Lynch doesn't seem discouraged by the onslaught of investigations, however.

"We note the announcement by the UK's Financial Reporting Council (FRC) that it has begun an investigation of the financial reporting of Autonomy for the period from 1 January 2009 to 30 June 2011," Lynch wrote in a post last month. "We are fully confident in the financial reporting of the company and look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate this to the FRC."

CNET contacted HP and Lynch for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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