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HP alleges company inflated its sales worth

NEW YORK – Hewlett-Packard Co. said on Tuesday that it’s the victim of a multibillion dollar fraud at the hands of a British company it bought last year that lied about its finances.

HP CEO Meg Whitman said executives at Autonomy Corporation PLC “willfully” boosted the company’s figures through various accounting tricks, which convinced HP to pay $9.7 billion for the company in October 2011.

Autonomy’s former CEO said HP’s allegations are false.

HP is now taking an $8.8 billion charge to align Autonomy’s purchase price with what HP now says is its real value. More than $5 billion of that charge is due to false accounting, HP said.

The revelation is another blow for HP, which is struggling to reinvent itself as PC and printer sales shrink. The company’s stock hit a 10-year low in morning trading.

Malone decries cost of sports programming

Add cable industry pioneer and Liberty Media Chairman John Malone to the growing list of people who think sports programming costs are out of control.

“We’ve got runaway sports rights, runaway sports salaries and what is essentially a high tax on a lot of households that don’t have a lot of interest in sports,” Malone said in an interview. “The consumer is really getting squeezed, as is the cable operator.”

Indeed, by some industry estimates sports programming now accounts for about half of the typical pay-television bill.

Malone, who has been an operator of cable systems and a programmer in his long career, said “the control of sports rights by a few entities has almost created a redistribution of wealth.” The entities he was referring to include News Corp., which owns 20 regional sports networks, or RSNs, and is launching a national service; Walt Disney Co., which owns the ESPN juggernaut; Time Warner, whose cable channels TBS and TNT carry baseball and basketball, respectively; and Comcast, which also owns almost a dozen RSNs.

California nurses strike at eight hospitals

SAN FRANCISCO – Union officials say hundreds of nurses in the San Francisco Bay area are braving rain showers to walk picket lines after going on strike Tuesday.

A spokesman for the California Nurses Association says registered nurses at eight hospitals operated by Sutter Health walked off the job around 7 a.m. Tuesday in what will be a two-day strike. Nurses at two San Jose hospitals operated by Hospital Corporation of America went on strike for one day.

The hospitals have hired replacements on five-day contracts to take the place of the striking nurses. Because of the contracts, hospital officials say the striking nurses won’t be allowed to return to work until Sunday.