The technology business week: UK fraud office wades into HP-Autonomy case, Dell clears Icahn to study its books

19 Mar 2013

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A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week.

HP says UK Serious Fraud Office is investigating Autonomy case

HP has disclosed in a financial filing that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into the allegations surrounding HP’s US$11bn acquisition of Mike Lynch’s Autonomy, which was later written down by US$8.8bn.

Irish-born Dr Mike Lynch has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has in turn alleged that the acquisition of his Cambridge-based software company had been mishandled by HP.

In the 10-Q filing, HP said: “As a result of the findings of an ongoing investigation, HP has provided information to the UK Serious Fraud Office, the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC related to the accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and misrepresentations at Autonomy that occurred prior to and in connection with HP’s acquisition of Autonomy. On November 21, 2012, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice advised HP that they had opened an investigation relating to Autonomy. On February 6, 2013, representatives of the UK Serious Fraud Office advised HP that they had also opened an investigation relating to Autonomy. HP is co-operating with the three investigating agencies.”

Dell gives Icahn the go-ahead to study its books

Corporate raider Carl Icahn has been granted Dell’s permission to study the company’s books. He has signed a confidentiality agreement with the company.

It emerged recently that Icahn had taken a 6pc stake in Dell.

Last month, Dell revealed it plans to go private under a US$24.4bn transaction by founder Michael Dell and global tech investment firm Silver Lake and involving loans and financing from Microsoft and major investment banks.

According to the Wall Street Journal Icahn is understood to have written to Dell’s board opposing the buyout and to come up instead with a plan that would deliver significantly more to shareholders.

He also wanted to give shareholders the right to be able to vote between the buyout or a US$9 special dividend to shareholders.

Google’s Chrome and Apps VP takes over reins of Android division

Changes are afoot at internet search giant Google – its senior vice-president of Chrome and Apps Sundar Pichai is taking over from Andy Rubin in leading the Android division, while Rubin takes on a new role at the company.

Pichai will lead Android while continuing his existing work with Chrome and Apps, Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a blog post.

“Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android – and with a really strong leadership team in place – Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google,” Page wrote.

“Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use – and he loves a big bet.”

There’s no additional detail on what Rubin’s new role will entail.

Samsung names two new co-CEOs

Samsung Electronics now has three people sharing the CEO role, what with the appointment of presidents Yoon Boo-keun and J.K. Shin as co-CEOs. They join vice-chairman and CEO Kwon Oh-hyun.

This change in management appears to put in place a leader in each of Samsung’s key divisions. Yoon has overseen the consumer electronics division, Shin has had the helm of mobile, and Kwon had led Samsung’s component business, The Verge reported.

In addition to their new roles, the two executives will retain their previous responsibilities within the company.

PayPal acquires mobile app developer Duff Research

E-payments giant PayPal has acquired mobile app development firm Duff Research to work on its mobile and digital wallet. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

PayPal CTO James Barrese announced the acquisition in a post on The PayPal Blog.

 “As PayPal continues to be a leader in mobile payments, we are looking for talented engineers with proven mobile experience to help us imagine, develop and deliver products our customers love,” Barrese wrote.  

“Today, I’m pleased to announce that Duff Research – a group of award-winning mobile app developers – has been acquired by PayPal. This talented team of engineers will be joining the PayPal technology team to help us build creative and simple ways for our customers to use the PayPal digital wallet.”

LinkedIn to buy Pulse news reader maker Alphonso Labs for more than US$50m

Alphonso Labs, the maker of the popular RSS news reader app Pulse, is to be acquired by social network LinkedIn for in excess of US$50m.

It is understood that LinkedIn beat off competition from Microsoft and Yahoo! to acquire Alphonso Labs.

According to AllThingsD, LinkedIn is believed to have paid between US$50m and US$100m for the company.

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