HP’s Autonomy allegations trigger new inquiry


PALO ALTO, California — British authorities have opened an investigation into Hewlett-Packard’s allegations that the personal computer maker was duped when it bought business software maker Autonomy, according to regulatory documents filed Monday.

The inquiry by the UK Serious Fraud Office is the latest legal fallout from a deal that has saddled Hewlett-Packard Co. with massive losses and depressed its stock price. The U.S. Justice Department started looking into the matter late last year, shortly after HP accused Autonomy employees of fabricating sales in a ruse that drove up the company’s sale price.

Autonomy’s founder and former CEO, Mike Lynch, has stridently denied HP’s allegations and demanded that the company provide more evidence to support its allegations. HP, which is based in Palo Alto, California, has repeatedly said that it is cooperating with legal authorities looking into the allegations.

HP bought UK-based Autonomy for about US$10 billion in 2011 and then wrote off US$8.8 billion of that amount late last year in a move that stunned Wall Street.

At least eight lawsuits have been filed by HP shareholders alleging that the company’s board and management botched the Autonomy deal and concealed vital information before the staggering write-off.