Autonomy to be acquired by Hewlett-Packard

Tech giant offers to pay £7bn for search specialist Autonomy.

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What's the attraction for HP? According to new CEO Léo Apotheker, "Autonomy presents an opportunity to accelerate our strategic vision to decisively and profitably lead a large and growing space. Autonomy brings to HP higher value business solutions that will help customers manage the explosion of information."

It's no secret that HP has been having a torrid time in recent years, with the arrival and then departure of CEO Carly Fiorina, boardroom battles, and a troubled merger with Compaq. The surprise acquisition news came in the same week that Apotheker announced a change of strategy for HP, saying that the company would be moving its focus away from the personal computer, smartphone and tablet business and towards cloud computing and higher-margin software aimed at large enterprises. This means that HP will stop producing products that run the WebOS operating system, acquired just last year with the purchase of Palm Inc.

The Autonomy acquisition has been greeted with concern by some in the UK, who worry that important technology innovation and expertise is leaving the country. BBC Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones called it "a sad day for British technology - and for Cambridge in particular". UK government Business Secretary Vince Cable reportedly spoke to Mike Lynch on Friday to seek assurances about the future, and was told that Autonomy would be run as an independent arm of HP. The company has, undeniably, been an innovator to watch. It will be interesting to see how that culture of innovation fares.

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