HP tells Mike Lynch: we'll see you in court

28 Nov 2012
HP

Autonomy founder asks for clarification over HP's accusations

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch has demanded answers from HP - and recieved little in return aside from a promise to see him in court.

HP last week said it was writing down $8bn over its acquisition of UK software firm Autonomy - with $5bn of that blamed on a "a series of questionable accounting and business practices at Autonomy prior to the acquisition by HP" that boosted its price.

Last night, Dr Lynch - who left Autonomy months after the acquisition - sent an open letter to the board of HP, saying it was "shocking" that the firm made the allegations public without speaking to him first - saying he was raising his complaints publicly in "the interests of complete transparency".

I am writing today to ask you, the board of HP, for immediate and specific explanations for the allegations HP is making

"I utterly reject all allegations of impropriety," he wrote, repeating his assurances that Autonomy's finances were fully audited.

"Having no details beyond the limited public information provided last week, and still with no further contact from you, I am writing today to ask you, the board of HP, for immediate and specific explanations for the allegations HP is making," he demanded.

"HP should provide me with the interim report and any other documents which you say you have provided to the SEC and the SFO [Serious Fraud Office] so that I can answer whatever is alleged, instead of the selective disclosure of non-material information via background discussions with the media," he said.

He gave HP a series of questions to answer, including how it calculated the $5bn writedown, how many Autonomy staff have left since HP took over, why HP waited six months to inform shareholders of the apparent issues, and whether the problems should actually be "attributed to HP's operational and financial mismanagement of Autonomy since the acquisition".

HP responds

HP's response was also made via a public statement, but was more succinct, essentially saying: we'll see you in court.

"While Dr Lynch is eager for a debate, we believe the legal process is the correct method in which to bring out the facts and take action on behalf of our shareholders," the statement said. "In that setting, we look forward to hearing Dr Lynch and other former Autonomy employees answer questions under penalty of perjury."

HP said its complaint has been reported to the Serious Fraud Office, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and the US department of Justice. It added: "we will defer to them as to how they wish to engage with Dr. Lynch", and promised future legal action "against the parties involved at the appropriate time".

The full text of both letters is available here.

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