CHAPTER 2Business Intelligence

In the first edition of this book in 2007 we opened this chapter by illustrating why the intelligence function is so important. We used two contemporary cases – EMI's failure to anticipate drastic changes in its marketplace and the Hewlett-Packard (HP) boardroom spying/pretext scandal – both of which significantly impacted the M&A process. Well, welcome back Hewlett-Packard. In September 2011, HP closed the acquisition of a company called Autonomy for $11.1 billion. Just over twelve months later HP wrote down $8.8 billion, almost 80% of the purchase price. Whether there was deliberate disinformation (fraud) on the part of Autonomy (as claimed by HP, but denied by Autonomy), or lamentable pre-deal due diligence on the part of HP itself, or negligence on the part of the auditors (although this does not obviate the need for HP to have been in control of what they contracted to the auditors) will only be established over time in the courts. What is clear is that the acquisition was either a colossal intelligence failure that cost HP the best part of $9 billion or a strategic blunder of unimaginable incompetence by the CEO and the board.

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