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'HP has just days to cough what it knew about Autonomy'

Former SEC aide urges watchdog to 'hold HP's feet to fire'

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HP will have to bare all in its beef with Autonomy's former management before the year is out, a former SEC advisor has suggested.

Hewlett-Packard took an $8.8bn write-down last month after alleging accounting errors were made at Brit biz Autonomy in the weeks before HP acquired it for $10.7bn in 2011.

In turn Autonomy co-founder and ex-CEO Mike Lynch rubbished HP's claims, denying any wrongdoing, and set up a website to spearhead his fightback - although neither side has fired off any lawsuits, and HP has yet to expand upon its complaint.

Tim Selling - a former aide to SEC, the US financial watchdog - said HP has complied with regulators over the debacle "but there are still far too many unknowns to conclude that HP has been adequately forthcoming".

"What I do know, however, is that SEC rules will eventually compel HP to tell the public in clear language what all the fuss has been about," he wrote on his website.

These regulations require HP to outline its "management's discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations" (MD&A). Selling calculated this document should be filled no later than the final day of 2012.

MD&A declarations reveal to investors what bosses know about the state of the business, how they gathered this information, how it shapes their financial forecasts, and what actions executives are taking or may take to minimise negative impacts.

Selling argued the issues that forced HP to writedown $8.8bn on Autonomy are worth an SEC probe and its new chair Elisse Walter needs to hold the vendor's "feet to the fire". ®

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