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HP unticks an Emerson box

Hewlett-Packard has notified the nation's financial regulator that EDS Australia managing director Neil Emerson and several of his colleagues are no longer — on paper — technically leading the IT outsourcer's local operations.
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Written by Renai LeMay and  Suzanne Tindal, News Editor on

Hewlett-Packard has notified the nation's financial regulator that EDS Australia managing director Neil Emerson and several of his colleagues are no longer — on paper — technically leading the IT outsourcer's local operations.

HP has removed Emerson, as well as EDS Australia and New Zealand CFO Chadwick Barton and Asia-Pacific hub director Graham Marr, from EDS' list of company directors in Australia, according to documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) early this month.

Replacing the trio are HP's local managing director and vice president of its Asia-Pacific region, Paul Brandling, as well as Anne La Fontaine, HP's finance director for the Asia region, and Ian Watts, whose position at HP is unclear.

The paper moves are not likely to reflect any actual real change to HP or EDS' leadership structure in the region, but are likely to be part of the legal niceties going on as part of HP's US$13.9 billion acquisition of EDS globally.

La Fontaine is well-known in Australia's accounting industry as one of the stars of a popular series of television advertisements marketing the accounting profession and published by professional group CPA Australia. Her advertisements can be found on the CPA's website.

In Australia, both HP and EDS have so far refused to say whether Australian job cuts would result from the acquisition, or even which executive would lead the combined entity locally in the immediate future, with both companies broadly trading as separate entities for the moment.

Emerson has only led EDS locally since May this year, when his predecessor Chris Mitchell left the group for a private equity firm. Emerson's LinkedIn profile still lists his EDS position as current.

With the combined company announcing 3,378 former EDS job cuts in its UK workforce overnight, the pair is under pressure locally to disclose its management structure and plans for its workforce in future.

Customers such as the Australian Taxation Office have been told by HP management not to assume that the international job cuts would hit Australia.

Unions such as the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA), which represent EDS staff, have previously called the HP/EDS cuts "terrible news" and demanded clarification from HP's Australian management about the fate of local staff.

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