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Friday, January 18, 2013

H.P. Said to Field Takeover Inquiries for Autonomy and E.D.S. Units

Hewlett-Packard has received a number of inquiries from would-be buyers for its Autonomy and Electronic Data Systems units in recent weeks, though the technology company is not interested in selling at the moment, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

The calls from potential suitors and bankers picked up after H.P. filed its annual report with regulators on Dec. 28, said the person, who did not want to be identified because management deliberations were confidential.

In the securities filing, the company said, “We also continue to evaluate the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help us meet our objectives.”

That is standard legal boilerplate. But H.P. has been struggling with poor performance at both Autonomy and E.D.S., having significantly written down the value of those acquisitins.

The company has also claimed to have found accounting and disclosure issues at Autonomy, and has forwarded findings from an internal inquiry to securities regulators in the United States and the division’s home in Britain.

Shares of H.P. rose 4 percent on Wednesday after The Wall Street Journal reported news of the expressions of interest. Over the last 12 months, the shares have fallen 35 percent.

But H.P.’s management team, led by Meg Whitman, is not interested in selling what it considers to be core businesses. Instead, the company intends to focus on developing its enterprise operations, the person said.

The inquiries may also have been stoked by the sudden flurry of news coverage surrounding a potential leveraged buyout of Dell. That company still appears to be closing in on a potential deal to sell itself to a consortium that includes its founder, Michael S. Dell, and the investment firm Silver Lake, in the biggest leveraged buyout in more than five years.

Advisers to Dell and Silver Lake are still negotiating a number of elements in what is proving to be a complicated deal, though they have made advancements, according to a person briefed on the matter who did not want to be identified because the talks were private. A potential takeover may be priced around $14 a share, valuing the company at more than $24 billion.

Mr. Dell is expected to contribute his roughly 16 percent stake to a leveraged buyout. And Silver Lake has been in talks with potential prtners, including sovereign wealth funds like Temasek of Singapore, about contributing additional capital, this person said.

Banks are also working on lining up the financing necessary for a deal, which could reach $15 billion. While an enormous amount of money, bankers are betting that debt investors will clamor for the financing package, hoping to reap yields that are higher than those for Treasury bonds.

Still, this person cautioned that the discussions could fall apart.

Confronting H.P. and Dell is the grinding pressure on both companies’ personal computer businesses, where profit margins have declined in the last few years as competition toughened.

The two tech companies are trying to decrease their dependence on making PCs.

That move had prompte! d H.P. to! buy both E.D.S. and Autonomy, paying more than $20 billion for the pair.

A version of this article appeared in print on 01/17/2013, on page B4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Two Units Of Hewlett Reportedly Draw Suitors.