Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

U.K. Regulator Is Looking Into Autonomy’s Pre-HP Books

Regulators in the U.K. are looking into the finances of the British software firm Autonomy during the years immediately prior to its acquisition by Hewlett-Packard, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The U.K.’s Financial Reporting Council announced the investigation today in a statement on its website. This would make it the second regulatory body in the U.K. — the first is the Serious Fraud Office — to begin investigating the company. Correction: Actually not true. While HP has reported its findings to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, that agency has never confirmed an investigation. The U.S. Department of Justice is also said to be investigating Autonomy’s books. HP alleged last year that Autonomy had used accounting tricks to inflate its value.

HP paid north of $11 billion for the company in 2011, then turned around and wrote down about $5 billion of its value as part of a larger $8.8 billion write-down announced in the fall. It was the second of two significant write-downs at HP during 2012, the first being the $8.9 billion write-down for the IT services firm EDS, acquired in 2008.

The council said it will investigate Autonomy’s accounting statements for the period between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011. HP announced the deal to acquire Autonomy on Aug. 18 of that year.

The regulator is responsible for, in its words, “promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting to foster investment,” and also sets corporate governance and accounting standards in the U.K.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work