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HP extends Autonomy offer Add to ...

Hewlett-Packard Co. has extended the deadline for its $11.2-billion (U.S.) (£7.1-billion) takeover offer for software company Autonomy to Oct. 3 after gaining acceptances from only 41.6 per cent of shareholders at the first closing date.

“I am very surprised that they have needed to extend it at all,” S&P equity research analyst James Crawshaw said on Tuesday. “I would have expected Autonomy shareholders to be all pretty much happy with the takeout price.”

HP offered an agreed 2,550 pence per Autonomy share on August 18, which it said valued the enterprise search software company’s fully diluted share capital at £7.09-billion.

Autonomy shareholders had been expected to snap up the offer, made at a 79-per-cent premium to the closing share price the day before the agreed deal was announced and equivalent to 10 times annual sales.

“Investors will hang on to the end in terms of waiting for a competitive deal,” said Panmure Gordon analyst George O’Connor.

“You have got a very decent bird in the hand, but there might be another two in the bush. My own view is that the bush is empty. HP is paying a very decent price. I do not see a competitive bid approaching.”

Tom Gidley-Kitchin, analyst at Charles Stanley, also does not expect to see a counter bid.

“I do not think anyone else has the same urgency to buy Autonomy as HP,” he said. “I guess that a lot of professional investors are holding onto their shares until late on against some miniscule chance of some better offer.”

Mr. Gidley-Kitchin said sentiment in the technology sector, hardware and even software, was a bit negative. Autonomy investors may be hanging on because there was nowhere better for them to put their money.

Autonomy shares were steady, up 0.2 per cent at 2,521 pence at 9:00 a.m.

The offer is conditional on regulatory clearance. HP said on Tuesday that filings have been made in the United States, Austria, Germany and Ireland.

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