updated 08:59 am EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Attorney fees guaranteed to be nixed, rest of deal at risk of scuttling by Judge
US District Judge Charles Breyer has rejected the proposed HP deal to end shareholder litigation against it, at least in part. In yesterday's hearing to move the settlement forward, the judge did concede that "something went terribly wrong" with the HP and Autonomy deal from 2011 and subsequent $8.8 billion write-down of the firm in 2012, but rejected millions of dollars in attorney fees to be paid by HP, by saying "that's out. I'm not going to approve the fee arrangement, period"
Autonomy Corporation was a multinational enterprise software company founded in the UK in 1996. The company used a combination of technologies born out of research at the University of Cambridge for business analytics. It developed a variety of enterprise search and knowledge-management applications using adaptive pattern-recognition techniques centered on Bayesian inference in conjunction with traditional search and data-mining methods.
HP alleges that an executive from Autonomy approached them after HP acquired the company, informing them that Autonomy's financial reporting was flawed and misleading. In announcing the write-down, HP accused Autonomy's former executives of a deliberate effort to inflate the company's financial metrics in order to mislead investors and potential buyers. Shareholders turned on HP, suing the company over the botched deal.
Hewlett Packard and shareholder's legal representation agreed to the settlement discussed yesterday over the company's acquisition of software developer Autonomy, which has been wracked with allegations, and counter-claims of fraud and misrepresentation. Under the terms of the agreement, all claims against HP were to be dropped, but former executives of Autonomy were to remain under the microscope, with the HP shareholders' attorneys now assisting HP in pursuing claims against them.
During Monday's hearing, former Autonomy Chief Financial Officer Sushovan Hussain's attorney called the deal a "whitewash" of the facts of the matter, saying that "if it were a carcass, animals would walk around it, it stinks so much."
The judge has scheduled another hearing regarding the deal for September 26. The next hearing will determine how much of the deal will be retained, the conditions of the deal, and how much individuals like Hussain and ex-CEO Michael Lynch will be allowed to contest any offering.