Irish-born Autonomy founder's reputation at risk
He was described as Britain’s Bill Gates and made £505 million (€627 million) from the sale of his software company, Autonomy, to technology giant HP last year but Irish-born Mike Lynch’s reputation is now at risk.
Along with some former senior colleagues, the Cambridge-educated entrepreneur stands accused by HP of a “serious accounting impropriety” at Autonomy prior to its $11 billion (€8.5 billion) sale to HP in October 2011.
HP yesterday booked a charge of $8.8 billion (€6.7 billion) in its fourth-quarter results relating to the alleged fraud, which emerged after a senior executive came forward when Lynch left the company on May 23rd last.
Lynch fought back yesterday, saying he was “shocked” by the allegations, “which are false”.
He told the Wall Street Journal he had been “ambushed” by HP.
“The figures are just mad. You are talking about handing them an asset worth $12 billion (€9.4 billion) and they are saying $9 billion (€7 billion) of that they are taking off,” he added.
“That would be such an obvious massive thing with 300 people and all these firms doing due diligence [before the acquisition], how could you possibly not spot it?”
HP has threatened litigation to recoup money for shareholders, describing it as potentially a “multi-year journey” through the courts.
Lynch, who is 47, was born in Tipperary but moved to England as a child, growing up in Essex. His father was a fireman and his mother a nurse.
He holds an MA in electrical and information sciences, a PhD in adaptive techniques in signal processing and connectionist models, and held a research fellowship in adaptive pattern recognition at Cambrige University.
Lynch founded Autonomy in 1996, floating the company two years later and making it into a FTSE 100 business before the blockbuster HP deal.
Lynch has an OBE for services to enterprise and has won a slew of business awards.