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HP hires former SEC GC to lead investigation into Autonomy

The computer giant accuses Autonomy of falsifying numbers during merger

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has employed a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) general counsel to head up its investigation into Autonomy.

Late last year, HP announced it was going to take an $8.8 billion hit as a result of fraudulent activity and misrepresentations made by Autonomy, the software company HP acquired in 2011 for $11.1 billion, during merger talks.

Ralph Ferrara, who is currently a partner at Proskauer Rose and is a former SEC GC, will lead the investigation by a three-member committee of independent directors. The team is looking into allegations that HP ignored warning signs indicating irregularities in Autonomy’s accounting and finances before it agreed to purchase the U.K.-based company.

The committee has conducted interviews with 25 “key individuals” and is reviewing documents related to the allegations, HP said in a court filing on Tuesday. The committee—which also consists of HP directors Ralph Whitworth, Gary Reiner and Robert Bennett—has also brought in accounting experts to help.

In May, a judge said HP must face the shareholder suit. Autonomy founder Michael Lynch  has denied any wrongdoing.

Read more about this story on BloombergBusinessweek.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of the case, see:

HP must face shareholder lawsuit over $16.2 billion market value loss

U.K. regulators probe Autonomy’s finances

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch defends company’s books

HP sued over Autonomy-deal accounting fiasco

WSJ Law Blog: Are lawyers to blame for the HP-Autonomy mess?

HP takes $8.8 billion hit, blames Autonomy


Cathleen Flahardy

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