This case is hugely embarrassing. Although the former management of Autonomy has completely denied these allegations, the fallout could still be enormous. The seriousness is underscored by the fact that HP reported the case to the US Securities and Exchange Committee and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office. A deal on this scale was always going to be challenging, but to have a valuation that was so far out by a wide margin suggests that something serious was missed. All deals must, of course, be taken on their own merit, and this isn’t necessarily indicative of what is going on across the industry. But if there are question marks over the judgement of some of the individuals involved, all British companies could find it difficult to attract investment in the future.
Mike Franklin is head of investment strategy at Beaufort International.
Hewlett Packard’s allegations against UK tech giant Autonomy raise the spectre of a loss of trust in British tech business at the very time that the government is trying to ensure it thrives. But the UK has long been the home of world-class discoveries and ideas and, many have grown into world-class businesses. We also have a reputation for integrity in business. Clearly the onus is on individual businesses to be transparent in the way they record and report information to retain the confidence of its shareholders and investors. Whatever the eventual outcome of the case (and Autonomy completely denies the allegations), it is unlikely that adverse publicity will spoil the ambitions of our fledgling tech companies which have the potential to become world-class enterprises. We need to ensure they receive every chance to demonstrate their worth and lead us out of recession.
Dan Wagner is chairman and chief executive of mPowa.