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Investors wobble as Apax exits Autonomy

Although expected, Apax Partners' disposal of its remaining investment has sent Autonomy's share price down further.

Apax Partners has exited its investment in Autonomy, the UK knowledge management software company.

Apax’s remaining holding was believed to be about 7 per cent, worth approximately £133m. Autonomy's shares fell 174p to £14.93p upon the news. It is understood that Goldman Sachs placed the shares with institutions at a price of £14.95. About 8.9m shares, representing a 7 per cent stake, changed hands.

Autonomy shares have been depressed over recent weeks over expectations that Apax was about to exit its investment. In November, Apax sold some 4.7m shares at £32 each. It was unable to sell its remaining shares ahead of Autonomy's results on February 15. This was because the private equity company had two members on the board, which made it an Autonomy insider.

Apax began its relationship with Autonomy founder Mike Lynch, a 35-year-old Cambridge mathematician, in 1994 when it invested in Neurodynamics. Two years later Apax obtained a 30 per cent shareholding in Autonomy when it was spun off as a separate company. Apax paid about E3m for its stake at the time.

Last week Autonomy reported fourth quarter pre-tax profit of $5.9m. Shares fell by 15 per cent upon the news.