Alan Pelz-Sharpe reported Autonomy to Serious Fraud Office in 2011

Consultant Alan Pelz-Sharpe referred Autonomy’s alleged shortcomings to the Serious Fraud Office before HP's $11.7bn deal went through

HP is not the first to have referred Autonomy to the Serious Fraud Office, according to UK IT consultant Alan Pelz-Sharpe (pictured).

HP bought Autonomy in 2011 for $11.7bn. But yesterday, HP wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8bn, accusing former members of Autonomy’s senior management of “accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures” in the lead-up to the acquisition. 

HP has referred Autonomy to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the UK.

However, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, now an analyst at 451 Research, told The Guardian he referred Autonomy to the SFO one week before the sale went through. 

Pelz-Sharpe said he referred Autonomy to the SFO for “alleged suspicious practices”.

“Autonomy wasn't a place where you spoke up,” Pelz-Sharpe said.

“It wasn't a happy place.”

Computer Weekly contacted the SFO to confirm the submission but it declined to comment.

HP has yet to comment on Pelz-Sharpe’s claim but a spokeswoman from the firm said: “I would have thought it was to the SFO to have said something to HP if they were taking it seriously.”

Yesterday, founder and former CEO of Autonomy, Mike Lynch, denied any wrongdoing.

“It has managed the company very badly," Mike Lynch told the BBC. "It lost around half the staff before I left and the whole of the management team, and the value of the company has now fallen and they've been forced to write it off."

"Today is the day they're announcing the worst results in the 70-year history of the business and I think there's a little bit of distraction going on here."

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Interesting. When the Autonomy deal was first announced, my first reaction was to skip over to Glassdoor and see what the workforce felt. It wasn't good - some of the practices described (by multiple employees) did not awaken confidence, and that was under Lynch. The news still isn't good, because Autonomy hasn't been - indeed, still isn't - managed well. It appears HP hasn't really got a strategic handle on the concept - a problem that has characterised many of their acquisitions (just look at Palm! Although in that particular case, it's possible Hurd had a vision that he failed to pass on to his successor(s)).

Glassdoor is an exceedingly useful portal onto workforce views of their employers. I'm quite sure many employers regard the whole concept - of employees reviewing their employers - as outrageous, but if you read reviews objectively, you'll find the feedback is fairly well balanced. If I was an industry analyst, I'd be using resources like this (I'm sure there are many other similar portals) as one of my main tools.

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