Inside HP’s Missed Chance to Avoid a Disastrous Deal

Days before Hewlett-Packard Co. dived into an $11 billion software deal it almost instantly regretted, it missed a chance to back away.

During a call with an HP delegation, outside auditors for British software maker Autonomy Corp. mentioned that an executive there had raised an allegation of improper accounting at the firm, according to people familiar with the call, who said the auditors added that the allegation was found to be groundless.

The HP executives never passed this mention on to their board or chief executive, one of the people said.

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