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August 27, 2014

HP to sue Deloitte UK over Autonomy deal

Fallout from disastorous 2012 takeover deal continues.

By Vinod

HP has announced plans to sue the British arm of accounting firm Deloitte over its role in the disastrous acquisition of software company Autonomy.

Confirming the action as part of a larger case against what it has called Autonomy’s "fraudulent" accounting practices, an HP spokesperson said: "We will continue to work to have the derivative actions settled or dismissed and to hold the former executives of Autonomy as well as Autonomy’s auditor, Deloitte UK, responsible for the wrongdoing that occurred."

Deloitte was Autonomy’s auditing firm during HP’s $11bn (£6.5bn) buyout of the Cambridge-based company in 2012, during which HP later claimed Autonomy’s profits were greatly exaggerated to inflate the company’s value.

Following a period of unrest which included further accusations of mismanagement by shareholders and executives on both sides, HP took a £5.5bn writedown on the company, citing "accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures" by Autonomy’s former management.

Bad blood between the companies has continued since, with Autonomy claiming that internal infighting at HP and the poor integration of Autonomy into HP’s operations were the cause of its dramatic loss of value.

In response, Deloitte said its only responsibility during the deal was auditing Autonomy’s accounts at the time, and branded HP’s latest action as "utterly without merit".

"HP has apparently indicated that it intends to pursue a claim against Deloitte UK," the company said in a statement, "and we will defend ourselves strongly against it."

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"Deloitte was not engaged by HP, or by Autonomy, to provide any due diligence in relation to the acquisition of Autonomy. Deloitte UK was auditor to Autonomy at the time of its acquisition by HP. Deloitte UK conducted its audit work in full compliance with regulation and professional standards."

HP’s decision came after a US judge announced on Monday that he would not approve part of a settlement reached between the company and some of its shareholders, who were suing HP over the Autonomy acquisition.

US District Judge Charles Breyer refused to let HP pay up to $48m to hire the lawyers used by the shareholders to help pursue its own claims against the former executives of Autonomy.

 

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