Kara Swisher

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Mike Lynch Punches Back at Today’s HP Filing: Whither $5B Writedown?

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Autonomy founder Mike Lynch is still not backing down in his ongoing battle with Hewlett-Packard.

“Simply put, these allegations are false, and in the absence of further detail we cannot understand what HP believes to be the basis for them,” he said in a statement, as well as aiming at $5 billion in writedowns the company has taken related to the controversial deal. “We continue to reject these allegations in the strongest possible terms.”

Lynch’s latest volley was prompted by a regulatory filing HP made earlier today, noting that the U.S. Department of Justice was indeed investigating its acquisition of British software company, for which it is trying to write down about $5 billion in expenses due to alleged “serious accounting improprieties.”

HP had taken the case to U.S. federal authorities in the first place, but now it’s official.

This caused Lynch, who has been vociferously battling the Silicon Valley tech giant over the allegations and rejecting HP’s claims of fraud in the $12 billion acquisition, to respond again.

In his statement, he presented a laundry list of arguments about how HP is trying to fool investors by pointing the finger at him.

Here’s his whole thing, so you can read for yourself:

It is extremely disappointing that HP has again failed to provide a detailed calculation of its $5 billion write-down of Autonomy, or publish any explanation of the serious allegations it has made against the former management team, in its annual report filing today.

Furthermore, it is now less clear how much of the $5 billion write-down is in fact being attributed to the alleged accounting issues, and how much to other changes in business performance and earnings projections. This appears to be a material change in HP’s allegations.

Simply put, these allegations are false, and in the absence of further detail we cannot understand what HP believes to be the basis for them.

We also do not understand why HP is raising these issues now given that Autonomy reported into the HP Finance team from the day the acquisition completed in October 2011, there was an extensive due diligence process and Autonomy was audited as a public company for many years.

We would particularly make the following points:

* HP’s CFO Cathie Lesjak and her team, plus a number of outside advisors, had access to all Autonomy accounts and documents from October 2011 onwards, and raised no issues.

* Beginning in November 2011, HP and KPMG reviewed Autonomy’s closing balance sheet in detail, and Ernst & Young reviewed Deloitte’s audit work papers.

* Beginning in October 2011, HP studied in detail Autonomy’s tax structure and transfer pricing as well as its revenue recognition practices (led by Paul Curtis, HP’s worldwide head of revenue recognition).

* An independent, third-party valuation of Autonomy’s assets was carried out in January 2012.

* Quarterly business reviews were held with Autonomy management, Meg Whitman and Cathie Lesjak to discuss Autonomy’s financial performance.

* HP has continued to sell and account for hardware alongside Autonomy software in the same way that Autonomy did for the year since the acquisition completed.

* Regarding differences between IFRS and US GAAP accounting standards, which appear to have a role in some of the allegations HP has made, Autonomy’s accounting policies were made clear in Autonomy’s 2010 annual report.

We also note the statement in HP’s annual report that it received confirmation from the US Department of Justice on 21 November 2012 (the day after HP’s first public statement), that the Department had opened an investigation. We can confirm that we have as yet had no contact from any regulatory authority. We will co-operate with any investigation and look forward to the opportunity to explain our position.

We continue to reject these allegations in the strongest possible terms. Autonomy’s financial accounts were properly maintained in accordance with applicable regulations, fully audited by Deloitte, and available to HP during the due diligence process.

We remain deeply concerned about how this process has been conducted, and believe it is in everyone’s interest for it to be resolved as soon as possible.

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