HP resisting overtures from firms interested in buying Autonomy, EDS

By Sooraj Shah
17 Jan 2013 View Comments
HP's Meg Whitman

HP has received overtures for enterprise search firm Autonomy and IT and equipment provider Electronic Data Systems (EDS), sources familiar with the discussions have revealed.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the expressions of interest have come from US tech firms, or their representatives.

Further reading

Both EDS and Autonomy have proved to be problematic purchases for HP.

In August 2012, HP revealed a colossal quarterly loss in its third fiscal quarter after writing down $8bn (£5.1bn) on its services arm, largely as a result of its poorly timed $13.9bn (£8.8bn) purchase of EDS in 2008.

The year before, HP's then CEO Leo Apotheker announced the acquisition of Autonomy for $10.24bn (£6.2bn), but in November 2012, HP filed a $5bn (£3.15bn) writedown in the value of the acquisition after CEO Meg Whitman claimed that a "whistle blower" had come forward alleging that Autonomy had engaged in dubious accounting practices that had artificially inflated the growth of the company's software business.

But the sources told the Journal that Whitman is in no mood to sell either division. This is despite HP threatening to axe units that fail to meet targets. EDS, for example, is placed in the enterprise services area which HP has forecast will decline in revenue by 11 to 13 per cent in 2013.

In a 27 December 2012 filing it said it would "continue to evaluate the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help us to meet our objectives".

HP's vice president for enterprise services UK, Craig Wilson, told Computing that the wording in the filing was "obvious" and that "every large company would say the same".

It is unclear whether EDS can be split from HP as it is now integrated within the Enterprise Services division alongside HP's legacy services consulting and outsourcing business.

HP has also reiterated that it has plans for Autonomy going forward. Most recently it said that Autonomy product Aurasma would be subsumed into HP's printers and personal systems group (PPS), which will lead to job losses at Aurasma - but that it would offset the losses by taking on 50 new engineers in its Autonomy division.

HP's Wilson claimed that the Autonomy portfolio was "second to none, in terms of analytics" and that although there is still work to do to build out the services around Autonomy, it is a unique and powerful piece of technology.

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