HP mulls legal action on Autonomy fraud claims

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HP mulls legal action on Autonomy fraud claims

Needs more time.

HP said it will pursue legal action over shareholders' securities fraud claims regarding its US$8.8 billion writedown for its purchase of Autonomy, but wants six more weeks to decide what course to pursue.

In September, US District Judge Charles Breyer gave HP until last Friday to vote on recommendations by a committee of independent directors.

The committee was to advise whether the PC company should try to have claims against various officers and directors dismissed, or join the claims in a bid to recoup its losses.

In a Friday court filing, HP said its board had reviewed the recommendations and "made decisions with respect to the actions that it deems to be in the best interests of the company and its shareholders."

It nonetheless said it has agreed with the plaintiffs' lawyers to keep the lawsuit on hold until February 28, and discuss the board's recommendations with them between February 18 and 20.

A lawyer representing shareholders, was not immediately available for comment.

HP has claimed it was itself a victim for having paid US$11.1 billion to buy Autonomy in 2011.

It took the writedown in November 2012, accusing Autonomy officials including former CEO Mike Lynch of accounting fraud. Lynch has denied the allegations.

Fallout from the purchase included the departure of two HP directors, and prompted chairman Ray Lane to give up his post. It also included criminal and civil probes by authorities in the United States and United Kingdom.

In November, Breyer said shareholders could pursue a separate lawsuit accusing HP and CEO Meg Whitman of failing to reveal soon enough in 2012 that the company may have overpaid for Autonomy or suspected fraud.

Breyer in that case also dismissed claims against Whitman's predecessor Leo Apotheker, who engineered the Autonomy purchase.

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