Silicon Valley Legend Quattrone Behind HP/Autonomy Deal

Frank Quattrone

As the fallout from Hewlett-Packard's purchase of Autonomy continues, attention is turning to the advisers who took part in the deal - with one name emerging from the pack.

As the fallout from Hewlett-Packard's purchase of Autonomy continues, attention is turning to the advisers who took part in the deal - with one name emerging from the pack.

Famed Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone, who led the deal for Autonomy, has acted for some of the biggest names in the business, including Google (NASDAQ: goog) and Amazon (NASDAQ: amzn) . His boutique firm of advisers, Qatalyst, set up after he was exonerated on charges of obstruction of justice in 2006, has sold three companies to HP in recent years. Despite its relatively small size and short lifespan, it has made its name as a sell-side favorite, with Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility's for $12.9 billion its biggest deal so far.

(Read More: Autonomy Founder 'Shocked' By HP Allegations )

Looking at some of the valuations Qatalyst has got, it's not hard to see why. It previously sold storage company 3Par to HP (NYSE: HPQ) in 2010 for more than twice its market value at the time talk of a deal emerged, after sparking off a bidding war between Dell and its rival.

Earlier that year, it sold telephone maker Palm to HP for $1.2 billion. HP wanted access to Palm's operating software, but has since quietly dropped most of its development lines.

Quattrone, 57, has already come under the spotlight more than investment bankers generally like to in relation to this deal. In the light of HP's offer, rival Oracle made a rather sniffy statement about Quattrone having "shopped" Autonomy to them as well. A dispute erupted over whether a PowerPoint presentation prepared for a visit by Quattrone and Mike Lynch, Autonomy's founder and chief executive, to Oracle, was part of a sales pitch. Oracle even published the presentation online with a release accusing Lynch of telling "whoppers."

(Read More: Autonomy Made 'Willfull Effort' To Mislead HP: Meg Whitman )

Quattrone said firmly at the time that he had approached Oracle separately, without Lynch's encouragement, but the dispute dragged out some of the back room dealing which accompanies most deals into the open in an embarrassing light.

At the time, it seemed like a minor setback for a banker who had survived a four year fight with U.S. authorities over charges of obstruction of justice, to re-emerge as one of the technology sector's biggest dealmakers, with a bulging contacts book including figures like Eric Schmidt.

The obstruction of justice charges stemmed from allegations that Credit Suisse pressured analysts to overvalue companies and set up brokerage accounts to give shares in IPOs to particularly valued investors at the height of the dotcom boom. Credit Suisse paid $100 million over the allegations without admitting guilt.

Before the charges, Quattrone worked for Credit Suisse at the height of the dotcom boom, after building his career at Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley. He used his time out from the technology sector to donate substantially to the Northern California Innocence Project, which helps victims of alleged miscarriages of justice, as well as to defend himself.

Calls to Qatalyst's San Francisco and London offices were not returned.

Written by Catherine Boyle, CNBC. Twitter: @cboylecnbc.

 

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