Hewlett Packard's (HP's) $19bn bid to acquire Compaq could be facing new hurdles.
HP revealed yesterday that it is being investigated by two divisions of the US federal government over allegations that it pressured an investment bank into voting for its proposed merger.
The government's inquiries represent the latest in a series of obstructions that HP has faced since announcing plans to buy Compaq last September.
According to HP documents filed yesterday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), both the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the San Francisco office of the SEC have requested information regarding Deutsche Bank's voting records.
While the SEC request is voluntary, the interest from the New York US Attorney's Office comes in the form of a subpoena. In addition, the Attorney General's office has subpoenaed Northern Trust regarding its voting records.
The investigators' interest in Northern Trust may have stemmed from a voice mail left by HP chief executive Carly Fiorina just days before the shareholder vote.
Fiorina stated in the message, which was leaked to the media last week, that HP might "have to do something extraordinary" to sway both Deutsche Bank's and Northern Trust's votes.
After the shareholder vote at the special meeting, HP proclaimed a small but narrow victory. Within days, however, a suit filed by dissident HP board member Walter Hewlett accused the company of using financial inducements to win votes from Deutsche Bank.
HP has strongly denied the accusations and maintains that the inquiry will not delay the merger. "We never acted improperly. We remain optimistic that we can close the merger on our current schedule," HP spokeswoman Judy Radlinsky said in a statement.
A Delaware judge recently ruled that Walter Hewlett could pursue his suit against the vote, ignoring protests from HP. The hearing begins on 23 April.
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