March 13, 2015 / 10:00 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. judge approves HP shareholder deal over Autonomy acquisition

A Hewlett-Packard logo is seen at the company's Executive Briefing Center in Palo Alto, California January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) won preliminary approval from a U.S. judge to settle shareholder litigation on Friday involving the information technology company’s botched acquisition of Autonomy Plc.

The ruling, from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, comes after HP failed to win approval of two previous proposed deals. Breyer had written that the last deal may not have been fair for shareholders because it could have forced them to give up claims beyond the Autonomy deal.

However, Breyer said the latest settlement appears to be limited solely to HP’s conduct involving Autonomy.

In a statement HP said it is pleased with the ruling.

HP announced a $8.8 billion writedown in November 2012, just over one year after buying Autonomy, and linked more than $5 billion to accounting fraud and inflated financials by Autonomy executives. The British company and its executives have denied any wrongdoing.

Under the terms of the settlement, shareholder attorneys agreed to drop all claims against HP’s current and former executives, including Chief Executive Meg Whitman, board members and advisers to the company.

HP, in turn, agreed to some governance reforms. The company has also said it would pursue claims against former Autonomy executives, including Chief Executive Michael Lynch.

The case is In re: Hewlett-Packard Co Shareholder Derivative Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 12-06003.

Reporting by Dan Levine, editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio

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