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FBI Said to Be Looking Into HP’s Allegations on Autonomy

The FBI, responding to an inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is looking into Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ)’s allegations of accounting improprieties at its Autonomy Corp. unit, a person familiar with the matter said.

Hewlett-Packard brought its claims about the U.K software company it bought last year to the SEC, which asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter wasn’t public. Whenever a company reports a matter that could be criminal in nature, it will be examined and it wasn’t known whether any action will result from it, the person said.

Hewlett-Packard yesterday accused Autonomy’s former managers of a broad range of financial falsehoods resulting in an $8.8 billion writedown.

More than $5 billion of the charge relates to accounting missteps, including improperly categorized hardware, Hewlett- Packard said. The rest is linked to Hewlett-Packard’s share value and projections that the deal won’t meet expectations, said the company, which also forecast fiscal first-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates.

Michael Thacker, a spokesman for Palo Alto, California- based Hewlett-Packard, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages yesterday seeking comment on the FBI’s actions.

Hewlett-Packard fell 12 percent to $11.71 yesterday, dropping to the lowest since October 2002. The stock has dropped 55 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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