HP alleges Autonomy wrongdoing, takes $8.8 billion charge

Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:17pm EST
 

By Poornima Gupta and Nicola Leske

(Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard stunned Wall Street by alleging a massive accounting scandal at its British software unit Autonomy that will cost the company the majority of $8.8 billion in charges.

It was the latest in a string of reversals that have renewed questions about the basic competence of the storied company's board and senior managers.

HP said on Tuesday it discovered "serious accounting improprieties" and "a willful effort by Autonomy to mislead shareholders," after a whistleblower came forward following the ouster of Autonomy's then-chief executive, Mike Lynch, in May.

The charge follows a nearly $11 billion writedown last quarter for the company's EDS services division.

The technology company has been roiled in the past few years by a revolving door of CEOs, overall management turnover and challenges in its core personal computer and printer businesses.

HP's stock slid to a 10-year low, dropping 12 percent to $11.71 in regular trading on Tuesday. Shares are down nearly 50 percent year to date.

Lynch "flatly rejected" HP's allegations and said he was "shocked" but confident he would be absolved of any wrongdoing.

He had not been notified by HP about the allegation before it was made public, nor had he been contacted by any authorities, Lynch said in an interview with Reuters.   Continued...

 
A HP Invent logo is pictured in front of Hewlett-Packard international offices in Meyrin near Geneva in this August 4, 2009, file photo. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files