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Wilson Sonsini, Fenwick on Board as HP Execs Lawyer Up for Autonomy-Related Securities SuitsHewlett-Packard CFO Catherine Lesjak and the company's former controller, James Murrin, have hired lawyers to fend off allegations that the two executives knew or should have known before HP acquired Autonomy that the British software firm was cooking its books.
2012-12-19 06:28:42 PM
Hewlett-Packard financial executives with key roles in the company's purchase of Autonomy have lawyered up to fight accusations they knew or should have known the British software firm cooked its books.
Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard Co. disclosed an $8.8 billion write down in November related to the Autonomy deal, spurring a wave of shareholder litigation.
Among the individual HP executives named in pending suits are CEO Meg Whitman, former CEO Leo Apotheker, CFO Catherine Lesjak and former Controller James Murrin.
Lawyers from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Fenwick & West entered appearances Wednesday for Lesjak and Murrin.
Lesjak's lead lawyer Steven Schatz of Wilson Sonsini said his client "acted properly at all times." He declined to discuss specifics.
Schatz has previously represented HP in shareholder actions, including a suit alleging the company wasted money by paying former CEO Mark Hurd $53 million in severance when he was ousted in 2010. Hurd was succeeded by Apotheker.
Murrin's lead counsel Kevin Muck, chair of Fenwick's securities litigation group, could not be reached for comment.
Both lawyers filed notices of appearances in Nicolow v. Hewlett Packard, 12-5980.
Plantiffs lawyers allege the officers knew there were problems with the deal, perhaps even before it was inked, and deceived the market for months.
Lesjak received $9.9 million in incentive and stock-based compensation due to HP's perceived performance, the suit states. Murrin, a 24-year veteran of HP, is accused of selling $3.5 million in HP stock at inflated prices "while in the possession of materially adverse and non-public information."
Effective May 1, Murrin was appointed to serve as a senior vice president and general manager for a division of HP Enterprise Services.
Attorneys have not yet entered appearances for Whitman, Apotheker or several other named defendants in the suit. HP is represented by Marc Sonnenfeld and Joseph Floren of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.