David Prosser: Danger signals flash for Autonomy windfalls


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Outlook At one level, it's just fun to sit back and watch the spat between Mike Lynch, the boss of Autonomy, and Larry Ellison, the Oracle chief executive who claims he was offered the chance to buy the British company but did not want to pay what Hewlett-Packard subsequently agreed to shell out. But at another, Autonomy shareholders, salivating at the huge premium HP has offered for the company, will be feeling anxious.

Meg Whitman, who replaced Leo Apotheker, the architect of the Autonomy takeover, a week ago as chief executive of HP, is already on the record saying she is enthusiastic about the deal. In truth, she probably didn't have much choice, with binding contracts exchanged before her arrival. If she doesharbour private doubts, however, allegations about the integrity and honesty of Autonomy's chief executive, fair or not, might be just the excuse she needs to renegotiate – or even to reconsider.