HP Australia bulked up in 2008

The Australian division of Hewlett-Packard grew its headcount by 22.9 per cent in the year to 31 October 2008, new documents have revealed, even as the company was finalising plans to cut a substantial number of workers from its newly combined operation with EDS.

Paul Brandling

HP's Australian chief Paul Brandling (Credit: HP)

The Australian division of Hewlett-Packard grew its headcount by 22.9 per cent in the year to 31 October 2008, new documents have revealed, even as the company was finalising plans to cut a substantial number of workers from its newly combined operation with EDS.

At that date the company had 3,028 staff in Australia, according to its annual financial report filed last week with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, up from 2,464 the year previously and almost back to 2006 levels of 3,063.

A HP spokesperson declined to reveal the cause of the boost in numbers.

In November an EDS spokesperson revealed the pair planned to cut about 7.5 per cent out of their combined Australian workforce, in line with global restructuring. At the time it was believed the pair had about 6,000 staff (EDS had about 3,600 staff at 31 December 2007), but the new figures would place the combined total at more than 6,600.

In late December, EDS' new Australian chief David Caspari told ZDNet.com.au that the 7.5 per cent staff cut goal was "by and large" completed locally, although he didn't go into further detail.

The financial results also revealed that HP's Australian operation had suffered a flat year in 2008, with revenues only rising 1.8 per cent over the previous year to hit $3.27 billion. Net profits sank 45 per cent to $44.3 million. The company's employee expenses sank 7.2 per cent to $513.7 million.

The documents also revealed how much HP Australia paid its executive team; in total, $5.35 million, up from $5.24 million the previous year.

In 2008 that team included the company's Australia and New Zealand chief, Asia-Pacific vice president Paul Brandling, as well as Anne La Fountaine, who became finance director of HP Australia on 15 July 2008, and Shane Lucas, who recently stepped down from his role as vice president and general manager of HP's local imaging and printing group. He was replaced by Richard Bailey.

Janice Cox was also recently appointed to be vice president of HP's South Pacific personal systems group, replacing Tony Bill. Another director, Ian Watts, also recently resigned as a director of the local company.

The documents also detailed the acquisitions HP has made in the region over the past several years and the amount it paid on paper for them: datacentre automation specialist Opsware Australia ($1), thin client specialist Neoware Systems [Australia] ($1), Exstream Pacific ($1.3 million) and Tower Software ($55.89 million).

Several of these firms were the local assets of companies HP acquired globally. The company's acquisition of EDS was not included as part of the 2008 financial results.