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HP in $8.8bn write-off in fourth quarter earnings

HP wrote off $8.8 billion US dollars in its fourth quarter earnings, with the majority linked to "serious accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures" discovered by an internal investigation.

The inquiry, run by accountancy firm PwC, was launched after a whistleblower at Autonomy approached HP with the allegations.

Computer giant hits out at Cambridge software company

Computer giant Hewlett-Packard Credit: PA

Bosses at computer giant Hewlett-Packard took a £5.5bn hit after accusing former staff at a Cambridge software company it bought last year of misleading investors.

HP bought Autonomy in a £7.1 billion deal that saw its founder Dr Mike Lynch pocket around £500 million.

The American firm alleges that former members of Autonomy's management fiddled accounts in a bid to "mislead investors and potential buyers" and has referred the matter to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).