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Hewlett-Packard boss Meg Whitman’s recent secret visit to Australia was indeed partly involved with a tech meltdown at its client the Commonwealth Bank, according to the Wall Street Journal blog AllThingsD.

AllThingsD reports that Whitman, already in Australia on other apparently secret business – her visit was not announced by H-P either in Australia or the USA – met with bank executives after the CBA suffered a technology disaster for which it had blamed H-P.

The bank is a key client of H-P’s Electronic Data Systems business.

According to Australian tech blog Delimiter, an operating system patch intended only for desktop PCs had been pushed to server machines as well during the last week of July, causing disruptions at many branches. While CommBank ATMs remained up and running, about 120 branches were hit.

Delimiter quoted internal sources saying that some 9000 desktop PCs, hundreds of mid-range Windows servers – as high as 490, according to the sources – and even iPads had been rendered unusable due to software corruption issues.

In the US, AllThingsD said Whitman had met the CBA’s chief information officer Michael Harte in a bid to salvage the relationship. By coincidence, the bank’s six-year contract with EDS is due for renewal, the blog post said.

EDS has been a major headache for H-P. Last week H-P announced it would take a charge of US$9 billion, following the result of a writedown of the value of EDS, which it bought in 2008 for $14 billion.

H-P last week also fired the head of its enterprise services unit, John Visentin over these problems, though the decision to remove him is said to have been made before the CBA disaster.

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