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Yet another crisis at Hewlett-Packard

By Laurie Bennett

November 21, 2012 at 10:11am

Last year, Footnoted gave its “Worst Footnote of 2011″ honors to Leo Apotheker, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

As the business-filings site noted, Apotheker had “managed to get paid very handsomely for failing so spectacularly.”

Footnoted estimated his pay package $36 million during a 11-month tenure. At the same time, HP stock dropped by more than 40 percent.

Now the departed Apotheker is coming under more fire, for HP’s $11.1 billion acquisition of Autonomy.

HP yesterday reported a $8.8 billion charge in its fourth quarter, primarily blaming possible deception by the British software maker. In a prepared statement, HP cited “accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures” by Autonomy’s former management team.

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch has denied the allegations, saying he had been “ambushed.

Scrutiny will fall not only on Autonomy’s leadership, but on HP’s.

The deal preceded Meg Whitman’s appointment as CEO, but she was an HP director at the time and voted for it.

Another figure who stoked HP’s expansion into software was internet pioneer Marc Andreessen, who also sits on the board.

The loss follow a series of setbacks and misjudgments at HP in recent years, including the 2010 resignation of former chairman and CEO Mark V. Hurd after a sexual harassment inquiry, and a 2006 spying scandal in which outside security contractors investigated board members and journalists.

HP said it had referred Autonomy allegations to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

Internally, the company leadership can look forward to lots of self-examination and questions from stockholders.

Again.

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