HP Assets Conjure Offers from Tech Buyers
Autonomy and EDS appear to draw the most interest, even though HP hasnt put them on the auction block formally
Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) is looking to dispose of assets but currently finds itself in the crosshairs of rival tech companies interested in acquiring units the embattled computer maker hasn’t put up for sale—yet.
The Palo Alto, Calif. technology company said in a 10-K filing with the with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 27 that it will “continue to evaluate the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help us meet our objectives.”
Since then, HP is believed to have received several inquiries from potential buyers. The two main businesses that are attracting the most attention include British software company Autonomy Corp. and technology consulting service Electronic Data Systems (EDS).
There are no signs that HP has taken the official steps in selling either unit, such as hiring an investment banker, but that could change since the company noted in the filing that assets which no longer help meet long-term objectives, could be up for grabs.
Autonomy, which helps customers analyze data, has encumbered HP with hardships since it was acquired for $11 billion in 2011. There were claims in its fourth quarter and full-year financial results that "serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and outright misrepresentations at Autonomy Corporation plc" occurred prior to HP’s acquisition in 2011.
HP, which paid $13.9 billion for EDS in 2008, is said to have taken multibillion-dollar write-downs on both deals. Autonomy has garnered the most heat and attention as a result of the alleged accounting fraud, according to HP chief executive Meg Whitman (pictured) in November.
Whitman, the former CEO of eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) who stepped in at HP in 2011, has had to deal with declining revenue ever since. For example, HP's revenue for the fourth quarter of 2012 was $30 billion compared with $32.1 billion a year earlier. Sales to consumers were hit particularly hard during the quarter, decreasing 16 percent, while sales to businesses sank 13 percent. Revenue in its flagship PC business fell 14 percent.
She has since noted that the company is shaking up its business model and concentrating on the development of storage and networking services, as well as tablets and mobile devices.
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