Before Hewlett-Packard bought British software company Autonomy, the deal was pitched to Michael Dell, the CEO of the eponymous PC maker, as well.
He turned it down because it was priced way too high for any “reasonable person,” Dell said to The Telegraph’s Katherine Rushton in an interview.
HP bought Autonomy for $11.1 billion, only to write off $5 billion of that amount over what it called “improprieties” in Autonomy’s accounting.
Here’s what Dell said about Autonomy:
“It was shopped to us as well,” he said. But he added that Dell did not give it much consideration. “Not at that price. That was an overwhelmingly obvious conclusion that any reasonable person could draw.”
Autonomy appears to have been actively trying to sell itself at the time HP bought it. Around the time Hewlett-Packard announced its deal to buy Autonomy, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison mentioned that Autonomy had been shopped to that company, too. Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch denied that, prompting Oracle to publish a slide deck it said Lynch had presented to it and issue a press release that said, “Either Mr. Lynch has a very poor memory or he’s lying.”
When Business Insider spoke to Lynch, he said Oracle was mistaken.
“When the HP deal was done, they ‘accidentally’ pulled a presentation that had been given to them by a banker three months earlier, in a meeting I had nothing to do with, which does look like its a pitch of Autonomy, on behalf of that banker to Oracle,” Lynch told us.
But now Dell is saying that he, too, turned down Autonomy. That makes HP’s decision to buy Autonomy at a premium look even worse. HP is fending off at least two lawsuits by shareholders over the matter.