Clifford Chance and Travers Smith have taken lead roles advising on the £3.4bn dispute between Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Autonomy founder Michael Lynch and its former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain regarding allegations of fraudulent accounting.
Filed at London’s Chancery Division last Monday (30 March), the dispute arose following accusations from Palo Alto-headquartered HP that Autonomy had committed a series of abuses that forced HP to write down $8.8bn from its 2011 takeover. HP claimed it was misled by Autonomy as to its true value and published the allegations following an internal investigation overseen by executive vice-president and general counsel John Schultz.
The instruction to represent Autonomy founder and tech entrepreneur Mike Lynch was gifted to Clifford Chance in 2012, with litigation and disputes head Jeremy Sandelson advising Lynch alongside fellow disputes partner Iain Roxborough in London, and partner Chris Morvillo in New York on matters including the Serious Fraud Office’s high profile investigation into the Autonomy sale which closed in January due to lack of evidence. Travers Smith meanwhile has been advising HP and so far particulars have yet to be filed.
A spokesperson for HP said: ‘HP can confirm that, on March 30, a claim form was filed against Michael Lynch and Sushovan Hussain alleging they engaged in fraudulent activities while executives at Autonomy. The lawsuit seeks damages from them of approximately $5.1 billion. HP will not comment further until the proceedings have been served on the defendants.’
Following the High Court filing the former management of Autonomy last Tuesday (31 March) confirmed they will file claims against HP for ‘loss and damage caused by false and negligent statements made against them by HP on 20 November 2012 and in HP’s subsequent smear campaign.’
Former Autonomy chief executive Lynch’s claim ‘is likely to be in excess of £100m’ and filed in the UK.