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Ex-Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch sues HP for $150m+

Claims damages in High Court writ over accusations he cooked books

Autonomy founder and ex-CEO Mike Lynch is suing HP for at least $150m (£100m) in damages over its assertion that he helped cook the books to inflate the price it paid for the software firm.

Back in the summer of 2011, HP forked out $10.7bn to acquire Autonomy. Little over a year later, the US giant accused Lynch of misrepresenting the value of his organisation, and of accounting improprieties.

HP subsequently wrote down its value by $8.8bn, blaming an impairment of goodwill and intangible assets associated with the acquisition of Autonomy, and commenced legal proceedings.

Lynch, who has consistently branded HP's claims as false, said today:

Over the past three years, HP has made many statements that were highly damaging to me and misleading to the stock market. Worse, HP knows, or should have known, these statements were false.

We are finally starting to see what really happened with Autonomy. HP's own documents, which the court will see, make clear that HP was simply incompetent in its operation of Autonomy, and the acquisition was doomed from the very beginning.

HP has filed lawsuits against Lynch in the UK and the US, claiming that contrary to the accounting treatment, Autonomy was not growing and was losing market share.

The Serious Fraud Office stated in January there was insufficient evidence for a realistic conviction so ended its probing, but proceedings are continuing Stateside.

Lynch said HP was in a state of "chaos" at the time of the Autonomy buy.

"Before going ahead with the acquisition they discussed firing their CEO. They then tried to abort the deal after closing, ultimately did fire the CEO, and generally fought amongst themselves likes cats in a sack, causing Autonomy to disintegrate," said Lynch.

He added that HP "wasn't misled by us or anyone else," and that Autonomy was one deal "among the many" that were mishandled by the US company. Lynch said any deals over $1bn they made in the last half a decade had "failed."

"Meg Whitman [HP CEO] can explain all this to a judge when we finish this in court once and for all," the Brit Bill Gates added.

An HP spokeswoman told us: "Mike Lynch's lawsuit is a laughable and desperate attempt to divert attention from the $5 billion lawsuit HP has filed and the ongoing criminal investigation. HP anxiously looks forward to the day Lynch and Hussain will be forced to answer for their actions in court." ®

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