I love this case, it shows so completely why most CEOs should never be allowed to run companies.
As an accountant the key for me here is how big were the Hardware sales, were they small compared to the software sales, and really just add ons, then they should not be separated, or were they big and had nothing to do with the software sales in which case they should be separate. My guess is that in reality they were somewhere between the 2, and probably towards the smaller end given Autonomy was a "software" company. Where things are grey of course Lynch is going to say do it in the way that makes the accounts look best, no CEO of a listed company would do otherwise.
The thing to remember with a company especially is that it really is only worth what people are willing to pay, and given how much HPE were willing to pay that is how much Autonomy was worth, the fact they couldn't realise that worth having paid for it is, in my view, down to their own stupidity. I know they didin't have access to all the accounts of Autonomy, but they did have professional advisors, legal, financial, and accounting I assume, and they should have warned HPE about the risks prior to purchase, added to which the board of HPE should have been professionals knowing what they were doing. The fact that HPE so massively overpaid looks like negligence on their part, and as a result they are now trying to shift the blame away from themselves. They should have acted on their due diligence and walked away if they couldn't get all the information they needed to support the value/risk of the acquisition.
I was always taught the assumption is the mother of all F**K Ups, and clearly even now HPE are making whoppers and guess what, they're still making whopping great F**K Ups.