HP's co-chairman, Ray Lane, almost found himself kicked off the tech company's board of directors yesterday, as only 58.8 percent of other board members voted for him to keep his position.
It was a humiliating result for Lane, a managing partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, who scored a 96 per cent approval rate in a similar vote in 2012.
Several other directors scored similarly low votes – a clear sign that disquiet over recent missteps by HP, including its troubled acquistion of data solutions firm Autonomy last year, has spread throughout the company's senior management.
In November 2011 HP accused Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch of fraud when valuing the company, which HP bought for $11bn (£7.4bn) before later writing off £5.8bn of this figure.
"Today's vote was a challenge to business as usual for the HP Board following a decade of failures at HP and the board's insistence on blaming recent missteps on the previous CEO," said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of CtW Investment Group, in a statement. "These votes are too high to ignore."
Lynch himself was again denying fraud yesterday, blaming, in an open letter to HP shareholders, the huge writedown on errors HP made after the acquisition, accusing HP of "the mismanagement of [the business]... under its ownership, making it impossible for Autonomy to deliver on HP's expectations".
In the letter, Lynch again defended Autonomy's auditing process:
"Autonomy's accounts were fully audited by Deloitte throughout the period in question and Deloitte has confirmed that it conducted its audit work in full compliance with regulation and professional standards," wrote Lynch. "We refuse to be a scapegoat for HP's own failings."
UK authorities continue to investigate HP's claims against Autonomy.
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