Investor Sues Hewlett-Packard over Autonomy Write-Down

Lawsuit alleges HP made false and misleading statements about Autonomy.

Hewlett-Packard Co. was sued by an investor over an $8.8 billion write-down that the company said was partly related to falsified finances at Autonomy Corp., the British software maker it bought last year.

The shareholder, in a complaint filed yesterday federal court in San Francisco, alleges that Hewlett-Packard issued false and misleading statements. The company concealed that it had gained control of Autonomy based on financial statements that were unreliable because of accounting manipulation, according to the complaint. Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman and the company’s former CEO, Leo Apotheker, are named as defendants, along with Chief Financial Officer Catherine Lesjak.

Negative Trends

Hewlett-Packard is accused in the complaint of concealing negative business trends concerning the profit margins of its enterprise services business, formerly known as Electronic Data Systems Corp., which Hewlett-Packard acquired in 2008 for $13.2 billion under then-Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd. As a result of the misleading statements, Hewlett-Packard’s stock traded at artificially inflated prices, according to the complaint.

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