Autonomy stands apart from Cadbury, says Lynch

Autonomy's chief exec insists that last week's £7.1bn takeover by HP won't threaten British jobs like Kraft's purchase of Cadbury. Let's hope he's right...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 22 Oct 2012
Mike Lynch is founder and chief exec of the IT giant, which was bought by Hewlett-Packard last week in the largest ever sale of a European software maker. Autonomy is also the largest UK firm to fall into foreign hands since Kraft’s purchase of Cadbury last year – meaning it's like a waved Wispa to a tuck shop queue for those campaigning against large foreign takeovers.

You can see why. After the Kraft deal the US food giant reneged on its promise to keep work going at Cadbury's factory near Bristol, leading to 500 job losses. Business secretary Vince Cable is now seeking assurances from HP that the same thing won’t happen again. The Kraft incident triggered demands for a ‘Cadbury’s law’, to make it harder for foreign companies to snap up British firms. Cable’s shadow John Denham brought up the issue on Friday.

Lynch has spoken out against the need for such protections, insisting instead that the HP deal simply represents a vote of confidence in Britain. He clearly understands his audience. He also insisted that Autonomy would stay here. ‘It is not like a biscuit factory [where] you buy a custard cream-making machine in Kentucky and then you run it twice as fast,’ he said. This game, he argues, is all about R&D, and you have to build the work where the experts are.

We hope he’s right. Job losses are never welcome at the best of times, and with the social and economic climate the way it is right now, there’s a limit to how much people will stomach watching much-needed pay-packets head overseas. Especially when Lynch, who founded the business back in 1996, could pocket £500m for his 8% stake. He might want to Wispa that...

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