HP Still Thinks Humiliating $11b Autonomy Purchase Was A Decent Buy

HP Still Thinks Humiliating $11b Autonomy Purchase Was A Decent Buy

The man who engineered HP’s disastrous $US11.1 billion purchase of Autonomy — a company whose accounting improprieties just cost the laptop behemoth a whopping $US9 billion — is Léo Apotheker. So what does the man who let an acquisition of this size go through without proper due diligence think about the deal after today’s revelations?

It was a great buy. Naturally.

Apotheker released a statement to the Wall Street Journal this morning saying that the due diligence process was “meticulous and thorough”, despite the fact that it missed a $US9 billion-sized hole in Autonomy’s accounting. He also expressed that he “continues to believe in Autonomy’s market potential”, which is like saying that you trust the mob to run a good garbage collection service.

It’s hard to tell how much Apotheker actually believes what he’s saying and how much he’s trying to cover himself in the event of an eventual, inevitable lawsuit of some sort. While he was ousted as HP’s CEO just months after the Autonomy deal went through, it still happened under his watch. The accounting firms HP hired should have done a better job, sure, and Autonomy shouldn’t have lied in the first place. But the buck stops at the (former) CEO. Or according to his statement everyone else:

According to HP, the accounting issues it discovered pre-date its acquisition of Autonomy. As such, it’s apparent that Autonomy’s alleged accounting misrepresentations misled a number of people over time — not just HP’s leadership team, auditors and directors. In fact, the alleged improprieties apparently came to light only after an internal whistleblower raised the issue in the spring, well after my departure.

Watching this affair unravel has all the allure and subtlety of a NASCAR pile-up. Which is to say, lots. It’s a long way to the bottom; we’ll be watching the digging from a comfortable chair with a bag full of lightly salted popcorn. [WSJ]