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Monday, 21 July 2014 10:01

Vatican involved in HP’s Autonomy spat

Written by Nick Farrell



Plot thickens

A theocratic state for kiddie fiddlers which was granted independence by Benito Mussolini has been drawn into the struggle between a maker of expensive printer ink and a former CEO of the UK software company which it bought. The Vatican wanted to digitise the Vatican’s library and was looking into using Autonomy’s software. In the end the infallible Pope decided that the software was too fallible and looked elsewhere to store the Vatican's proof that Jesus never died and that Mary Magdalene was alive and well and living near Edinburgh.

However for some reason when HP bought Autonomy there was a sale recorded for the Vatican and this is being used by the maker of expensive printer ink to claim that the company booked sales even when the intended end user had not decided to buy the software. Autonomy’s figures showed $11.55 million in revenue based on the sale to MicroTech of software that was earmarked for the proposed Vatican deal. However according to Reuters a source familiar with Autonomy’s business said that its approach to booking revenue in such transactions with resellers was permissible under UK accounting standards.

HP took an $8.8 billion impairment charge in November 2012 for its $11.1 billion purchase of Autonomy. The size of the loss, and the speed with which it occurred, marks the deal as one of the most disastrous done by a major company in recent years. However the deal between Automony and MicroTech and the Vatican also appears to be a mess. MicroTech wrote to the Vatican library, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV), on April 23 this year seeking payment for the $11.55 million of Autonomy software.

MicroTech CEO and President Anthony Jimenez said in the letter that in March 2010 Autonomy had requested it buy the software in 2010 so that MicroTech could “participate as a reseller” in a project between the library and Autonomy. MicroTech was then surprised to see an announcement from another company, Japan’s NTT Data Corp, in March this year stating that it had been selected to conduct the Vatican library’s digitization project. When he asked the Vatican library if Autonomy software had been used in the NTT contract or any other such project, and, if so, when was payment made for that software and who received it.

Vatican library prefect Monsignore Cesare Pasini sent a letter to HP in which he said MicroTech’s assumption that Autonomy software was being used in the project “is absolutely false.” He said the project uses software from NTT Data and others but not anything from Autonomy and MicroTech.

In fact Pasini added that the Vatican library has “never dealt with MicroTech.”

Nick Farrell

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