HP Will Settle 3 Lawsuits Over Its $US11 Billion Autonomy Acquisition, Urge Shareholders To Sue Autonomy

Meg WhitmanRick Wilking/ReutersHP CEO Meg Whitman

HP is expected to announce a settlement on Monday of three shareholder lawsuits over its wayward $US11 billion acquisition of Autonomy, Reuters reports.

One part of the agreement is particularly interesting: HP is asking shareholders to help it pursue some sort of action against Autonomy, sources told Reuters.

The shareholders will agree to drop all claims against HP’s executives and board members, including CEO Meg Whitman, but they will be free to pursue former officials at Autonomy. Plus, the shareholders’ attorneys will “receive fees for helping HP pursue any further claims” Reuters reports.

We don’t know yet if there was any financial terms included in this agreement.

To recap: less than a year after buying British software maker Autonomy for $US11 billion, HP wrote off $US8.8 billion and alleged that Autonomy had improperly inflated its revenues and margins, to the tune of $US5 billion. HP called it fraud, named a whole bunch of ways it believed Autonomy had done this, and asked for investigations by the authorities.

We also don’t know exactly what HP’s litigation plans are, although an HP spokesperson did tell Business Insider in November, 2012, that the company planned to “take legal action.”

Former CEO Michael Lynch has consistently and vehemently denied all wrongdoing and has said that it was HP’s own mismanagement of Autonomy after the acquisition that caused the problems.

Both sides have been duking it out ever since, as is evident from this comment from a spokesperson for former Autonomy executives:

“We continue to reject HP’s allegations, and note that over recent months a number of documents have emerged that prove Meg Whitman misled her shareholders. We hope this matter will now move beyond a smear campaign based on selective disclosure and HP will finally give a full explanation.”

HP declined comment.

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