HP commits to embattled Autonomy software division

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman has again affirmed the company's commitment to its embattled Autonomy software division, saying that HP's fiscal health is stronger than some may believe.

"There's been a lot of challenges, but a lot of victories," Whitman said in a keynote speech at the HP Discover conference in Frankfurt, Germany, this month. "I want to thank you for sticking with us through some difficult times."

Whitman was alluding, in part, to HP's recent announcement that it will take an $8.8 billion fourth-quarter write-down -- around $5 billion of which it attributed to alleged accounting improprieties by Autonomy before HP acquired the company for $10.3 billion in a widely criticized deal last year.

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch maintains that neither he nor any other Autonomy executive engaged in any wrongdoing. He also questions how auditors could have missed improprieties amounting to $5 billion during the vetting process before the deal closed.

Despite the back-and-forth between HP and Lynch (who set up a website -- AutonomyAccounts.org -- for his responses to HP), Whitman said, Autonomy "will play a very significant role in our growth strategy. We remain 100% committed to Autonomy's industry-leading technologies and its employees."

Autonomy, which sells information management and search software, hasn't performed as well as HP had hoped. And Whitman, who took over as CEO last year following the ouster of Leo Apotheker, is also grappling with a weakened stock price and declining server and services sales. The company is trying to regain its footing with a three-pronged strategy involving cloud computing, information management and security.

Nonetheless, Whitman contends that HP is "quite profitable" and is still "the No. 1 or No. 2 provider in virtually every market in which we compete."

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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