The Straits Times
Published on Nov 21, 2012

In HP-Autonomy debacle, many advisers but little good advice


NEW YORK (REUTERS) - When Hewlett Packard (HP) acquired Autonomy last year for US$11.1 billion (S$13.6 billion), some 15 different financial, legal and accounting firms were involved in the transaction - and none raised a flag about what HP said on Tuesday was a major accounting fraud.

HP stunned Wall Street with the allegations about its British software unit, taking an US$8.8 billion writedown, the latest in a string of reversals for the storied company.

HP chief executive Meg Whitman, who was a director at the company at the time of the deal, said the board relied on accounting firm Deloitte for vetting Autonomy's financials, and that KPMG was subsequently hired to audit Deloitte.

HP had many other advisers as well: boutique investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners to serve as its lead adviser, along with Barclays. Banking advisers on both sides of the deal were paid US$68.8 million, according to data from Thomson Reuters/Freeman Consulting.