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No one can dispute that within Silicon Valley, Hewlett Packard's been on a big buying spree in recent years -- the big question is whether it's been a boost to the company. In October, HP took a majority stake in British software giant
Autonomy at a cost of $10.3 billion in the company's second largest merger ever to its $25 billion deal for
Compaq in 2001. Shares however have fallen 35% year-to-date.
HP's most recent Autonomy purchase is a legacy of former chief executive Leo Apotheker, who in August, planned the Autonomy purchase and a spin of the Palo Alto, Ca., -based company's PC's business to tip the balance of sales to a services and software orient. Apotheker was fired in September and replaced by Meg Whitman, who's completed the Autonomy purchase but quashed a PC's spin.
Nevertheless, HP's been on the deals hunt long before its Autonomy purchase. Overall, it cut five other $250 million sized deals, adding to a merger bill of $17.7 billion. In the spring of 2010, HP purchased 3Com for $2.7 billion to bolster its networking business, and later it bought Palm for $1.2 billion to sell handsets and leverage its webOS platform. In the summer, the company bought Fortify, a software security company that helps users connect to mobile devices using a firewall. That fall, the company paid $2.35 billion for 3Par's storage capabilities and $1.5 billion for ArcSight in a push to security services.
As a result of the deals, HP's Technology Solutions group is growing at a 13.4% in the last two years, its fastest growing business. After keeping the PC's division, Whitman must now work to integrate the company's businesses with more than $126 billion in sales to build on its 7% profit margins.