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IPE special report May 2018

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PGGM settles lawsuit against HP over acquisition of Autonomy

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PGGM has reached a $100m (€89.5m) settlement with US technology giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) over “false and misleading” statements made at the time of its $11bn acquisition of Autonomy.

The €200bn Dutch pension manager, which acted as lead plaintiff for the suit, alleged in a filing in March 2013 that HP violated US securities laws “by making a series of materially false statements and omissions” regarding the 2011 acquisition of Autonomy.

The software company, founded in the UK, was bought by HP for $10.3bn.

HP was subsequently forced to announce an $8.8bn write-down, which PGGM alleged was related to accounting improprieties at Autonomy.

PGGM added that the write-down triggered HP’s share price to fall, triggering its lawsuit.

Eloy Lindeijer, chief investment manager at PGGM, stressed the importance of the lawsuit from an active ownership perspective.

“PGGM has taken the responsibility of acting as lead plaintiff in this case because it is crucial that investors are timely and adequately informed by listed companies about material information that might impact shareholders’ investment decisions,” he said.

“Therefore, we have taken steps in the US in an effort to protect the investments of our clients and other aggrieved investors.”

Lindeijer added that PGGM would remain vigilant in focusing on robust corporate governance at HP and across all of its holdings.

HP said in a statement that it continued to believe the action brought by PGGM had no merit.

But it agreed the settlement would benefit all shareholders by avoiding further “burdensome and protracted” litigation.

The settlement will also see all current and former HP employees released from any other securities-related claims with respect to the acquisition of Autonomy.

The $100m settlement is set to be paid into a fund that will compensate investors, with the sum being met by HP’s insurer.

PGGM, represented by US-based law firm Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, recently said it was talking to the Dutch government about introducing class-action lawsuits in the Netherlands

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