Wachtell and Clifford Chance set to go head-to-head in HP Autonomy war

A fraud battle brewing between Hewlett-Packard (HP) and former Autonomy managers could see Clifford Chance and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz squaring off in the High Court.

Earlier this week the ongoing and acrimonious fallout from HP’s $11.1bn takeover of Autonomy in 2011 escalated, with HP accusing former Autonomy founder Michael Lynch and CFO Sushovan Hussain of fraud.

In court documents filed in California, HP indicated it was preparing a UK case against Clifford Chance client Lynch and Hussain. The move is a response to Hussain’s attempt to intervene in the HP’s settlements of shareholder lawsuits over the doomed acquisition which saw HP write off $8.8bn (14 December 2012).   

HP turned to Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz partners Marc Wolinksy and George Conway as well as Farella Braun & Martel partner Neil Goteiner to block the intervention. Hussain turned to Keker & Van Nest partner John Keker.

Court documents filed for Hussain said he “has an interest in challenging this collusive settlement because it would shield from adversarial examination the claims of wrongdoing by HP officials”.

HP argued Hussain’s attempt to intervene in the settlements was “ludicrous”. The company added: “The shareholder plaintiffs who originally sued HP’s directors and officers now agree that Hussain, along with Autonomy’s founder and CEO, Michael Lynch, should be held accountable for this fraud.”

Clifford Chance partners Jeremy Sandelson and Iain Roxborough have been advising Lynch since 2012 with partner Chris Morvillo advising from New York.

The firm was taken on to defend him against claims of impropriety, misrepresentation and disclosure failures following HP’s ill-fated acquisition of Autonomy in 2011.

HP purchased the company for over $11bn. But a year later HP unveiled a write-down of $8.8bn related to Autonomy, saying more than $5bn was linked to alleged accounting irregularities.

The deal resulted in a $1bn lawsuit brought against HP by shareholders in San Francisco. Shareholders were represented by Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy.

Both could now help bring claims against Lynch and Hussain. No claim has yet been filed in the UK.

The lawyers

Former Autonomy founder Mike Lynch

Clifford Chance partners Jeremy Sandelson and Iain Roxborough in London and Chris Morvillo in New York

Former CFO Sushovan Hussain

Keker & Van Nest partner John Keker

Hewlett Packard

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz partners Marc Wolinsky, George Conway and Farella Braun & Martel partner Neil Goteiner 

HP shareholders 

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy