Apotheker: HP board was just as culpable for Autonomy buy

I didn't get chance to 'implement strategy in its totality'


Leo Apotheker reckons he shouldn't be forced to single-handedly carry the can for HP's calamitous acquisition of Autonomy when there are a bunch of board members that were equally at fault.

The man spent 11 short months at the Silicon Valley giant, but this was more than enough to make an indelible mark - his tenure included the seemingly snap decisions to eject slabs and smartphones as well as to pay $10.24bn for Autonomy.

But in a note to Bloomberg, Apotheker seemed to point the finger at other senior figures as being just as culpable for the deal.

"No single CEO is ever able to make decision on a major acquisition in isolation, particularly at a company as large as HP - and certainly not without the full support of the chairman of the board," he wrote.

Not only did HP dig very deep for the Brit software maker, but as world + dog now knows it was forced to write down the value of the business by $5bn after claiming it uncovered some irregularities in Autonomy's books.

A public spat ensued between HP and Autonomy former honcho Mike Lynch over those claims - yet no lawsuit has been filed by either party.

Subsequently however legal action was taken by an investor against a bunch of HPers over the handling of the Autonomy buy, and named as a defendant among others was hapless Apotheker, who until now maintained a silent vigil.

"The HP board, led by its chairman, met many times to review the acquisition and unanimously support the deal, as well as the underlying strategic objective to bolster HP's market presence in enterprise data," Apotheker added in the note.

Despite sending its share price spiralling downwards by billions, from $77bn when he started to $45bn on his exit, Apotheker defended his time at the top.

"I still believe the strategic vision that we tried to implement was sound … HP was and still is in need of a transformational strategy," he said.

"Unfortunately, I was never given the opportunity to implement the strategy in its totality," he added, "the new leadership has now been in place longer than my 11-month tenure. But it's clear that HP still is in search of the right path".

Since leaving HP Apotheker has not been offered another seat on the CEO-merry-go-round and his role in tech remains limited to a supervisory role at French IT firm Steria. ®

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