Hows that shareholder lawsuit for sheer M&A incompetence looking now Meg?
The Serious Fraud Office has retracted its probe into the sale of Autonomy to HP in 2011 on grounds that the information presented to it provides "insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction". The investigation began in early 2013, following a referral from HP. In 2012, the company alleged Autonomy had " …
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As a HP shareholder I might have reason to fault the board of directors, including Ms. Whitman, who presumably was at least present for the very bad choice of Apotheker and the changes begun during his tenure. And I might reasonably think there should be some compensation to the aggrieved shareholders. That said, if the board and management were misled in part by cooking of Autonomy numbers in ways that were not known until after the deal was completed, I woudn't object if part or all of that were clawed back from those who sold Autonomy as well, perhaps, as Mr. Apotheker. In the meantime, of course, lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic will enjoy good eating and high living sorting things out, perhaps to return to me a coupon good for as much as a $25 discount on an HP computer.
The SFO seem to be saying that the data they require is being sent to the US authorities & not to them.
Doesn't this really mean that the US agencies have shouldered aside the SFO because they wish to act as judge & jury on any event anywhere in the world which may impact on US interests?
Who could have imagined that this would happen?
"Doesn't this really mean that the US agencies have shouldered aside the SFO because they wish to act as judge & jury on any event anywhere in the world which may impact on US interests?"
No, it means that the SFO have had a good look and concluded that there's no material case. My guess is that they probably did find a range of wide-boy sales accounting that all IT firms seem to favour (compared to most other businesses I've worked in), but evidently not the specific allegations of fraud that HP allege. Given HP's dismal incompetence at everything, I'd be very surprised if there accounting was any better than Autonomy's. And let's face it, which of these two companies admitted to running a range of complex shell companies to hide illegal slush fund payments, and got fined $108m last year? That's right, HP.
Having said that, US regulators are renowned as being the most biased referees in the world, so HP will still be hoping that they'll decide that a bit of creative accounting by Autonomy qualifies as large scale fraud, and that will then vindicate HP's useless, useless management.
having done revenue recognition on large multi year contracts unde SEC rules a few years back I have to say they were much more restrictive and prescriptive at the time. What might pass the not fraud test in UK may not necessarily do so in US. Of course like all rule rather than principle based systems big companies with resources can game the system, though the fact that any speech by an SEC member (even to the local equivalent of WI) counts a policy can trip you up.
What might pass the not fraud test in UK may not necessarily do so in US.
This is the bit that should scare people the most about the whole deal. This is exactly the sort of problem you ought to be expect when concluding international deals. The Germans seem to be good at rooting out precisely these issues. In fact the last time they did (MBS values), the world economy collapsed a few months later.
HP have a long record of purchasing companies and destroy their value. The real test of a company is in its products and while HP were once a preeminent equipment manufacturing company, that has not been the case for about 20 years. They still ride on their reputation when test equipment, Laserjet printers and RPN calculators were king - that's long gone now.
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