East Anglia: Hewlett-Packard shareholders in backlash over Autonomy deal following open letter from Mike Lynch
THREE senior directors of United States technology group Hewlett-Packard have only narrowly survived a re-election vote amid a shareholder backlash following its multi-million-dollar writedown of acquisitions including Cambridge software company Autonomy.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) has accused Autonomy of fabricating sales in an alleged ruse to drive up the company’s sale price ahead of its £7.1bn takeover by HP in 2011.
Autonomy founder and former chief executive Mike Lynch, who lives in Suffolk, and other former senior managers at the company, have strenuously denied HP’s claims and demanded that the company provides more evidence to support its allegations.
The re-election votes, at California-based HP’s annual general meeting, followed expressions of concern by a number of shareholder groups over the company’s acquisition strategy and an open letter from Dr Lynch urging investors to back his demand for HP to be more transparent in its allegations.
Dr Lynch said in his letter: “As a member of the former management team of Autonomy I have a shared interest with the shareholders of HP (of which I am not one) in getting to the bottom of those allegations, understanding exactly what happened within HP related to this situation and resolving it as soon as possible.”
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At the annual meeting, long-serving HP directors John Hammergren and Kennedy Thompson saw 46% and 45% of votes respectively cast against their re-election while there was a 41% vote against the return of chairman Raymond Lane.
To address shareholder’s anger over the company’s recent 8.8bn US dollar writedown, HP has set up an internal review of its takeover of both Autonomy and another sofware company, EDS, which it bought in 2009.
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The US Justice Department and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office are both looking into HPs allegations over the Autonomy deal while HP faces lawsuits by some of its shareholders.
HP has said that, having handed its information to the authorities, it will not comment further on the details of its allegations.