Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker, who has kept a low profile since the Autonomy accounting scandal came to light last month, now says he's not the only one to blame for HP's disastrous Autonomy acquisition.
In a statement emailed to Bloomberg Thursday, Apotheker offered a reminder of how corporate governance typically functions in the context of large deals.
"No single CEO is ever able to make a decision on a major acquisition in isolation, particularly at a company as large as HP -- and certainly not without the full support of the chairman of the board," Apotheker said in the statement. "The HP board, led by its chairman, met many times to review the acquisition and unanimously supported the deal, as well as the underlying strategic objective to bolster HP's market presence in enterprise data."
An HP spokesperson declined to comment on Apotheker's assertions.
Apotheker's two references to Ray Lane, chairman of HP's board of directors, may be coincidental. But, they could also be indicative of a smoldering resentment from a CEO who was fired last September after a tumultuous 11 months at the helm.
Lane reportedly supported Apotheker's quest to expand HP's enterprise software portfolio with a major acquisition, and he is also said to have been on board with the $11.1 billion acquisition of Autonomy. However, Lane also reportedly played a key role in ousting Apotheker and replacing him with Meg Whitman.
Apotheker's statements are more pointed than the ones he offered last month, after HP took an $8.8 billion charge from its Autonomy acquisition amid accusations of accounting improprieties.
"I'm both stunned and disappointed to learn of Autonomy's alleged accounting improprieties. The developments are a shock to the many who believed in the company, myself included," Apotheker said last month in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.
By drawing attention to the role HP's board of directors played in the Autonomy fiasco, Apotheker is echoing popular opinion in the HP channel.
"All I can do is shake my head about a very dysfunctional board and management team," one longtime HP partner told CRN when informed of Apotheker's latest comments.
"The HP board sounds like it's been a very dysfunctional place for many years, and someone needs to shake it up, clear the decks and bring in some fresh blood," said another longtime HP partner, who requested anonymity.
HP is facing a class action lawsuit from shareholders related to the Autonomy deal, and accounting giants Deloitte and KMPG -- which vetted Autonomy prior to the deal's close -- are also being targeted in a separate lawsuit.
HP has referred the Autonomy accounting issue to authorities in the U.S. and U.K. and challenged Autonomy co-founder and CEO Mike Lynch to testify on the matter under oath.
PUBLISHED DEC. 13, 2012