HP chief steps down after criticism of botched $11bn deal to buy Autonomy


HP, the American technology giant that has been battling to contain shareholder displeasure over its botched deal to buy Autonomy, has shaken up its top ranks, with executive chairman Ray Lane, who was only narrowly re-elected at the company’s annual meeting last month, stepping down from his post.

Mr Lane began leading the HP board in 2010, and has faced criticism for not being vigilant enough when former chief executive Leo Apotheker agreed to pay more than $11bn for Autonomy, only for Mr Apotheker’s successor, Meg Whitman, to announce a massive $8.8bn write-down connected to the transaction last year. HP also made allegations of financial fraud on Autonomy’s part – something that has been vehemently denied by the Cambridge-based company’s founder and former boss, Mike Lynch.

Last night, HP said Mr Lane, who will remain on the board, will be replaced by Ralph Whitworth, the veteran activist investor who was named to the company’s board in 2011. Mr Whitworth will be in the post temporarily, until HP finds a permanent replacement for Mr Lane.

The shake-up extends beyond Mr Lane. Two other directors – John Hammergren and Kennedy Thompson – will step down, the company said.

Both Mr Hammergren and Mr Thompson were on the HP board when it bought Autonomy.  “After reflecting on the stockholder vote last month, I’ve decided to step down as executive chairman to reduce any distraction from HP’s ongoing turnaround,” Mr Lane said.