HP settles shareholder Autonomy lawsuit for $100m

HP sign outside an office building

HP is paying $100 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit that claimed the company misrepresented the value of Autonomy, which it bought for 7 billion in 2011.

Dutch pension fund manager PGGM Vermogensbeheer led a class action lawsuit against HP after the tech giant was forced to write-down 5.6 million of the sum it paid for Autonomy.

Acting on behalf of other investors, PGGM claimed HP had made "false and misleading statements" about Autonomy's value, and reasons for the company's subsequent below-par performance following the acquisition.

In a statement, HP was quick to dismiss the accusations, but said the settlement was the best way forward.

"While HP believes the action has no merit, it is desirable and beneficial to HP and its shareholders to resolve to settle the case as further litigation would be burdensome and protracted," a spokesperson said.

It plans to pay the $100 million (65 million) into a settlement pot that will pay out to anyone who bought HP shares between August 19, 2011 and November 20, 2012 shares plummeted after the Autonomy write-down.

PGGM's chief investment manager, Eloy Lindeijer, said: "PGGM has taken the responsibility of acting as lead plaintiff in this case because it is crucial that investors are timely and adequately informed by listed companies about material information that might impact shareholder's investment decisions.

"Therefore we have taken steps in the US in an effort to protect the investments of our clients and other aggrieved investors."

HP was keen to stress that no individuals at the company were being held responsible as part of the settlement, adding that current and former officers, directors and advisors of HP would be free from future claims once the settlement is complete.

The news comes six months after a US judge rejected a proposed deal between HP and its shareholders over the Autonomy write-down.

Judge Charles Breyer found the agreement would have improperly protected HP from future legislation unrelated to the Autonomy case.

It was the second version of the settlement to be rejected, the first of which would have seen tens of millions of dollars paid to lawyers representing the shareholders.

HP is suing former Autonomy execs CEO Mike Lynch and CFO Sushovan Hussain for $5.1 billion (3.3 billion), the amount it claims it was tricked into paying for the British software maker.

The firm accuses the pair of cooking the books to increase Autonomy's apparent value, releasing details of its claims last month.

But both have denied the accusations, with Lynch blasting the lawsuit as a search for scapegoats.

He said the claims are "one long disagreement over accounting treatments, and have nothing to do with fraud".

Lynch plans to counter-sue HP for at least 100 million.

The Serious Fraud Office dropped its investigation into the acquisition in January this year, citing a lack of evidence, after HP referred the deal to the body in 2013.