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Micro Focus Turmoil Grows as Firm Cuts Guidance, Shares Fall

Giles Turner
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Micro Focus Turmoil Grows as Firm Cuts Guidance, Shares Fall

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Micro Focus International Plc cut its outlook for full-year revenue causing its shares to plummet, blaming uncertainty among its clients to sign new software deals.

The U.K. tech company is cutting its full year constant currency revenue guidance to minus 6% to 8%, down from minus 4% to 6%, according to a statement Thursday. Shares in Micro Focus fell as much as 34% during trading in London, the most since March 2018.

Micro Focus is also accelerating a strategic review of the group’s operations, and will consider a range of strategic, operational and financial alternatives.

It was only in July that the company said it was maintaining its full year guidance, as it continued to battle integrating the $8.8 billion of software assets it bought from Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. two years ago.

Micro Focus has built a business model on acquiring legacy software assets and squeezing out costs. In 2017 it bought Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s software assets, such as application delivery management, big-data analytics and enterprise security, but has struggled to integrate the deal, causing the departure of its chief executive officer.

Investors have continued to question the company’s ability to integrate HPE’s assets, with shares falling 11% over the past month. Elliott Management Corp., the New York hedge fund run by billionaire Paul Singer, built up a position in the company last year, but has since exited its holding, according to a person familiar with the matter. Elliott’s holding fell below 5% of Micro Focus in October 2018, according to regulatory filings.

“Following the recent disappointing trading performance, we have determined that it is appropriate to accelerate the undertaking of a strategic review of the Group’s operations,” said Stephen Murdoch, chief executive officer of Micro Focus.

The company declined to give more details on the strategic review. In July 2018 the company agreed to sell its infrastructure software business SUSE to private equity firm EQT Partners AB for $2.54 billion in cash.

“There is worse to come as the company has launched a strategic review,” said George O’Connor, analyst at Stifel, in a research note.

(Updated with share price, Elliott sale and analyst quote.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Turner in London at gturner35@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Nate Lanxon, Edwin Chan

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