Last week, when HP announced that $5 billion of its $8.8 billion write-down was due to "serious accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures" at Autonomy, a lot of people were asking questions. How do the numbers work? Is HP taking a bath? Who's this Brand X accounting firm that Meg Whitman doesn't think too highly […]
Remember what Meg said, "“The board relied on audited financials — audited by Deloitte — not Brand X accounting firm but Deloitte.” Via the New York Times: Deloitte notes the allegations made yesterday by Hewlett Packard (HP) that ‘some former members of Autonomy’s management team used serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and outright misrepresentations to inflate […]
As luck would have it, we don't get to coast this Thanksgiving week as HP had to come along and screw it all up by announcing a $8.8 billion write-down, $5 billion of which is described as "serious accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures" at software company Autonomy, who HP acquired back in 2011. And where […]
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu quits Swiss system to make UK its new legal home [The Guardian]
“With zero fanfare, Britain has gained a multinational. The global accountanc ouche Tohmatsu has quietly shifted its legal registration from Switzerland to London, flying in the face of threats by other City firms to flee the Square Mile.
The firm, which has 169,000 staff around the world and is vying with PricewaterhouseCoopers for the title of the world’s biggest professional services group, is thought to have moved because of legal controversy surrounding its previous status as an obscure Swiss entity known as a verein – a membership structure originally intended for sports clubs, voluntary organisations and unions.
The change – which became effective over the summer but was not announced publicly by Deloitte – has little tax implication for the Treasury because Deloitte’s decentralised structure means taxes are paid by its member firms on a country-by-country basis. But it amounts to a vote of confidence in English corporate law over Switzerland’s regime.”
H.P. Settles Lawsuit Against Hurd [NYT]
“A fierce and public feud between Oracle and Hewlett-Packard, two of the world’s largest technology companies, has ended after all of two weeks.
On Monday, the companies announced a settlement to a dispute that centered on Oracle’s hiring of Mark V. Hurd, the former chief executive of H.P., as a president. H.P. sued Mr. Hurd this month, claiming he would violate agreements to protect H.P.’s secrets by taking on such a high-level role at Oracle. The parties declined to reveal details about the settlement but said Mr. Hurd would protect H.P.’s confidential information.
However, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, H.P. said it had modified its separation agreement with Mr. Hurd. He effectively waived about half the compensation owed him. Mr. Hurd agreed to give up his rights to the 330,177 performance-based restricted stock units granted to him on Jan. 17, 2008, and to the 15,853 time-based restricted stock units granted on Dec. 11, 2009.”
FinancialForce gets jiggy with iPad [AccMan]
FinancialForce snags Life Champions from Sage with the lure of the iPad: “Field agents will be equipped with iPads and will record new opportunities directly in Salesforce CRM. Credit card payments can be processed on the spot and transactions seamlessly created in FinancialForce Accounting.”
Tax Preparer Who Threatened Prosecutor Is Sentenced to 3 to 6 Years [New York Law Journal]
“A tax preparer who sent threatening letters to a Manhattan assistant district attorney who had twice prosecuted him was sentenced Friday to three to six years behind bars.
Prosecutors arrested Jack Chang, 55, last summer after Gilda Mariani, the chief of the money laundering and tax crime unit in the district attorney’s office, received two ominous letters. One was addressed to her husband at her home and contained a white powder that turned out to be cornstarch. The other was delivered through interoffice mail.
Both depicted a tombstone with Mariani’s name and contained virtually the same message: ‘I finally got my 9 mil gun and I am insane, you are responsible for my insanity and I will make sure that you get at least one for each and every year I spent incarcerated.’ ”
Caron: The Costs of Estate Tax Dithering [TaxProf Blog]
“President Obama was widely criticized for ‘dithering’ over the decision of whether to add more troops in the Afghanistan War. Yet Presidents and Congresses over the past decade escaped similar opprobrium for ‘dithering’ in the face of the long-scheduled one-year repeal of the estate tax beginning January 1, 2010, to be followed by the reinstatement of the tax on January 1, 2011. Although the “smart money” agreed after the passage of the Bush tax cuts in 2001 that the Administration and Congress would never allow the repeal-reinstatement scenario to play out, that is precisely where we now find ourselves.”
Hiring of town accountant upsets group [Seacoastonline]
They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more.
Pay package increases for Koss CEO [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
“Michael Koss, the top executive at Koss Corp., received a 41.6% boost in his pay package last year, the same fiscal year that an embezzlement of about $34 million was discovered at the company, new documents filed with regulators disclosed.”
Obama Against a Compromise on Extension of Bush Tax Cuts [NYT]
“President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.
Mr. Obama’s opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that the e open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party’s weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled.”
Oracle CEO Rails Against H-P For Mark Hurd Lawsuit [Dow Jones]
Were the HP board membersnot aware that Larry Ellison does what he wants? Oh and that’s he’s filthy rich and will buy all of their homes and their families’ homes and burn them to the ground if you dare cross him?
“Oracle Corp. (ORCL) Chief Executive Larry Ellison issued on Tuesday a strongly worded criticism of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and its lawsuit against H-P’s former Chief Executive Mark Hurd, suggesting that Oracle might discontinue its 25-year partnership with H-P.
‘Oracle has long viewed H-P as an important partner,’ said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in a statement. ‘The H-P board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The H-P Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and H-P to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace.’ ”
Six Flags Entertainment Corporation Announces John Duffey to Join Company as Chief Financial Officer and Lance Balk to Serve as General Counsel [PR Newswire]
Despite rumors that Duffey is scared to death of roller coasters, he assumes the big chair.
Former Advatech CFO Sentenced To 51 Months In Prison [Dow Jones]
“Richard Margulies, 59, was convicted of a June 2008 scheme that involved hiring two individuals to make “manipulative” purchases in the company’s stock in exchange for illegal kickbacks. He provided the two with shareholder lists, confidential information and non-public press releases to help slowly drive up the share price.
Soon after, Margulies was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was indicted in December 2008 on charges that included conspiracy and securities fraud. Margulies pleaded guilty.
The court found he intended to cause $2.5 million to $7 million in losses as a result of his actions.”
Deloitte Becomes a Thomson Reuters Certified Implementer [PR Newswire]
Apparently this is BFD.
BP Takes Some Blame in Gulf Disaster [WSJ]
“The report finds BP facing a tricky balancing act. The British company risks exposing itself to greater legal liability if it assumes a large part of the blame for the disaster, but if it doesn’t do this it likely would be accused of evading responsibility. Meanwhile, parceling out blame to other companies involved in the well risks drawing blowback from them. BP officials and legal analysts say the company is trying to be careful to avoid letting the findings devolve into more mud-slinging.”
Citrin Cooperman Ranked Among Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-growing Private Companies [PR Log]
“According to Inc., Citrin Cooperman was the 148th fastest growing firm in the magazine’s broad “financial services” category, which includes accounting firms, brokerages, lending services and technology firms serving the financial industry.”
I.R.S. to Drop Suit Against UBS Over Tax Havens [DealBook]
UBS is finally dropping those 4,450 names it owes the IRS and skates past the civil charges.
3PAR Accepts Revised Dell Takeover Bid [WSJ]
“3PAR Inc. on Friday accepted an increased, $1.8 billion takeover offer from Dell Inc., a day after Hewlett-Packard Co. raised its offer in a bidding war for the data-storage company.
Dell’s revised offer matches H-P’s Thursday bid of $27 a share for 3PAR, whose software helps companies manage and store data more efficiently.
The fight over 3PAR illustrates how important it has become for tech companies to dominate the emerging technology known as cloud computing, in which data are managed and accessed over the Internet. Dell and H-P both sell storage products and see 3PAR’s assets as important additions to their portfolios as large technology companies seek to serve all the needs of corporate-technology departments.”
When Litigation Kills the Accounting Profession-Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned! [FEI Blog]
Jim Peterson of Re:Balane guest posted over at FEI Blog where he discussed his speciality – risk surrounding the Big 4.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Trying To Buy Consulting Revenue Again With Diamond Deal [Re:The Auditors]
Francine McKenna discusses PwC’s recently announced purchase of Diamond Management & Technology including whether some of Diamond’s consultants bailed early to avoid becoming a cog in the another public accounting firm, “Did some of the employees bail out before they were signed on as sterile strategists for an ineffective firm struggling under the weight of consulting ‘leadership’ with audit-shaped heads? I know for sure that there were significant groups of BearingPoint consultants that would have rather masticated glass shards than work for a public accounting firm again.”
Official Statement [Roni Deutch: The Tax Lady Blog]
Roni Deutch says Jerry Brown, California’s Attorney General-cum-Democratic nominee for Governor, is playing election year politics. Seems plausible.
Finance Execs React to Herz’s Retirement [CFO]
No one is panicking.
SEC vows more actions over crisis [FT]
The FT is finally getting to the story about the SEC bringing more actions, changing the culture with new teams, yada, yada, yada. Except not everyone is buying it, “[S]everal judges have questioned the SEC’s deals with Citigroup and Bank of America, and some plaintiffs’ lawyers believe the regulator has been too soft.
‘There’s no real difference now to what it was like before Mary Schapiro became chairman,’ said Jacob Zamansky, a lawyer for investors and longtime SEC critic.”
Boeing Postpones Dreamliner Delivery Until 2011 [WSJ]
You’ll have to come up with a different Christmas gift for the boss this year.
JetBlue CFO Flies Cross-Country, Collects Garbage [NYM]
JetBlue CFO Ed Barnes and VP Robin Hayes reportedly did their best to show up Steven Slater on a recent flight from New York to Long Beach. Apparently it is not uncommon for JetBlue execs to help out during the flight, however passengers can spot an amateur/numbers person when they see one:
“Barnes took one of the most challenging of the flight attendant’s duties upon himself: He gathered trash. ‘He never served anything, but he was the trash guy. He must have gone by eight times,’ our source said. ‘And he was kind of bad at it. He was really tall. There’s an art to reaching over people’s heads and h and not spilling it.’ Apparently both men were very nice, especially considering that the CFO was ‘clearly a guy who is used to doing spreadsheets and is now gathering trash.’ ”
Leverage FASB Tools to Catch Up on New Accounting [Compliance Week]
“Although the FASB is a on a fast track to issue a host of major new accounting standards as part of its effort with the IASB to converge U.S. and international rules, the board has coupled that with an effort to get resources out that can help key stakeholders grasp the new era of accounting that is just dawning. In addition to the usual discussion papers and exposure documents laying out the full technical detail of its plans, the board also is publishing user-friendly summaries and producing podcasts and webinars that explain the major new initiatives as they are proposed.”
How to Deal With Your New Boss [FINS]
“You will have to prove yourself all over again. The work culture of the past will change, and the expectations will be intensified, at least in the beginning. Experts agree there are specific ways to respond that will maximize your chances of surviving, and even thriving. For finance professionals, managing a new boss comes with some added stressors that professionals in other fields may not experience.”
H-P Board Sued on Hurd Exit [WSJ]
“Hewlett-Packard Co.’s directors got slapped with a lawsuit over the departure of Mark Hurd—the same chief executive who handpicked most of the board’s members—even as they face the task of finding a replacement for the former CEO.
A Connecticut-based law firm filed a shareholder derivative suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court in California on Tuesday against H-P’s board, alleging directors violated their fiduciary duties in connection with the events surrounding the resignation on Friday of Mr. Hurd.”
FDIC opens its doors to carry out financial reform [Reuters]
“Bank regulators on Thursday pledged an ‘open door’ policy for carrying out financial reform, also saying they will inform the public of meetings between senior officials and private sector individuals.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said it will release every two weeks the names and affiliations of people outside of the government who meet with agency officials to discuss implementing the Dodd-Frank law. The subjects that are discussed will also be made public.”
IRS Prepares Preparers for Preparer Requirements [Web CPA]
“An IRS official repeatedly reassured an audience of tax preparers that the agency isn’t aiming to take away their livelihoods or weed out people when its new registration, testing, education and e-file requirements take effect next tax season.”
H-P Board Surprised Hurd Didn’t Go Quietly [WSJ]
H-P’s directors ‘hoped he would move on,’ said one person familiar with the situation, adding that the board prefers to focus on ‘protecting the brand and taking the higher ground.’
Mr. Hurd resigned Friday over ethics violations related to his relationship with a former H-P marketing contractor, Jodie Fisher. His exit was immediately followed by hard-hitting comments from H-P executives and a board member. Mr. Hurd left with a separation agreement that included a $12.2 million cash payment and a promise not to disparage the company or ‘induce others’ to do so.
In the days b n, according to a person familiar with the matter, Mr. Hurd hired Sitrick & Co., a Los Angeles-based firm known for handling crisis communications for high-profile individuals, including former H-P chairman Patricia Dunn and celebrity Paris Hilton.”
What Not to Do When Blowing the Whistle [FINS]
Sure you can get paid the big bucks to sing like a canary these days but are some things you might want to consider first.
Black Accountants Group Names New Leader [Afro American]
“Calvin Harris Jr., was recently elected the 24th national president and CEO of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). NABA, a 501 c(3) nonprofit, is the leading association for African Americans and minorities in the accounting, audit, finance, information technology, tax, and other business related fields. Harris’s two-year term began July 1.”
Wipfli LLP: Washington state-based Michael R. Bell & Company, PLLC, joins Wipfli LLP [WisBusiness]
“Effective August 1, the partners and associates of Washington state-based Michael R. Bell & Company, PLLC, joined Wipfli LLP, an international CPA firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Michael R. Bell & Company specializes in providing audit, accounting and consulting services to a variety of health care organizations and will become part of Wipfli’s full-service health care industry practice.”
Salesforce Customers Want Better Link to Accounting [Web CPA]
“A new survey of Salesforce.com customers found that the majority of them want to link more closely between their customer relationship management software and accounting software.
The survey, by Salesforce.com partner FinancialForce.com, found that 67 percent of those using competing packages cited a lack of integration of their current accounting software with customer relationship management software as their biggest headache.”
Plum Benefit to Cultural Post: Tax-Free Housing [NYT]
Being a director of some of the best known museums in the world is not only lucrative (multi-million dollar salary), you can also get a pretty sweet pad – tax free!
Mickelson Has Arthritic Condition That Made Him Question His Golf Future [Bloomberg]
Rest easy T Fly, Phil says he’s back to 90% just in time for the PGA that starts tomorrow.
When HP announced the stunning resignation of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Mark Hurd on Friday, it seemingly wanted the world to think it took the moral high road.
In its press release, the company said a probe into possible sexual harassment charges against Hurd and HP by a former contractor to HP found no violation of HP’s sexual harassment policy, “but did find violations of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct.”
So, basically the company and Board were saying that ethics trumps performance, even when it comes to the guy widely credited for turning around the company.
The populists applauded, hoping that some companies have higher standards than, maybe, Wall Street, where the people who brought us the global financial crisis and caused millions of innocent people to lose their jobs also wound up being rewarded with huge bonuses.
However, these hopes were quickly dashed when we learned that poor Mark Hurd-who joins the growing ranks of the unemployed–will walk away with close to $30 million in severance.
So much for taking the high moral ground.
Now, defenders of Hurd’s package say his employment contract calls for this arrangement. It’s that simple. And a contract is a contract. Blah blah blah.
However, the reality is that if he were fired “with cause,” the company could have been off the hook from paying him anything. Hurd would have received zilch. Then their firing for breaching ethics would have had meat.
In most “with cause” cases, all the company needs to cite is an intentional breach of any of the company’s policies.
Of course, Hurd could have contested this decision and sued the company. But, that would have placed the onus on Hurd and enabled HP to take an even firmer ethical stand, which given its size and stature would have sent a loud and emphatic message to the business community.
But, alas, this was not the route HP’s Board wanted to go. In fact, the beginning of its press release announcing Hurd’s departure, says: “Hurd has decided with the Board of Directors to resign his positions effective immediately.”
On its subsequent conference call, the company reportedly said there was a legal settlement.
What does this mean? Either the company did not want Hurd to walk away with nothing. It could also mean it did not have a good case. It could also mean there were other undisclosed issues involved or Hurd might have some dirt on the company if there were a lawsuit and depositions were taken, even if it did not go to trial.
Of course, HP has its free market right to make a deal with Hurd.
However, don’t try to tell us you’re taking the high moral ground.
“We thought it was important for people to appreciate that the announcement today has nothing to do with the operational performance of the company, it is all about Mark’s behavior and judgment.”
~ HP Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak, who is now interim CEO after an abrupt resignation by Mark Hurd amid sexual harassment allegations.