Hewlett-Packard claims financial improprieties from Autonomy ahead of purchase

The tech giant says Autonomy’s 2010 revenue was lowered by 54 percent, or roughly £95 million ($156 million)

Hewlett-Packard Co. has claimed that U.K. software maker Autonomy inflated its revenue and profit before HP’s 2011 purchase of the company. Now, following an audit of Autonomy’s 2010 financial statements, HP believes it has the ammo to prove it.

HP claims that it found financial improprieties during the audit, which examined Autonomy’s 2010 and 2011 fiscal reports. The tech giant says Autonomy’s 2010 revenue was lowered by 54 percent, or roughly £95 million ($156 million), when HP refiled the company’s 2010 statement with Companies House, the U.K. registry of companies. HP also says the restatement showed an operating-profit decline of 81 percent.

 “These restatements, and the reasons for them, are consistent with HP's previous disclosures regarding accounting improprieties in Autonomy's pre-acquisition financials,” said an HP spokesman to The Wall Street Journal. “The substantial work necessary to prepare these accounts has revealed extensive accounting errors and misrepresentations in the previously issued 2010 audited financial statements, including the problems previously identified by HP.”

A spokesman for Autonomy’s former management told the WSJ it continues to reject HP’s allegations.

The HP spokesman said Autonomy allegedly cooked its books through booking deals that were unlikely to be paid for, booking deals prematurely before they were closed, and claiming transactions where there were no end customers. The spokesman also claimed the company had accounting errors in the filings of certain expenses like employee commissions and bonuses.

According to HP, 2011 financial statements contained some of the same improprieties as 2010 statements. However, as those financials had not been completed and submitted to HP before the company’s sale closed in October 2011.

A year after the sale, HP said it would write down the value of Autonomy by $8.8 billion. According to a spokesman at the time, about $5 billion of that figure could be attributed to the accounting irregularities.

The U.K.'s Financial Reporting Council is investigating the matter but would only say that it is continuing the investigation that it began in February 2013.

 

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