News briefs: Authentic8, TeleTech, Telstra, SkyNetGlobal, Maxis et al

Privately-owned online security company Authentic8 has been acquired by NASDAQ-listed company ActivCard in a cash and share transaction valued at $A80 million. In the wake of the deal the Australian company's Internet Authentication Service will be launched throughout North America, Europe and Asia under the Authentic8 brand. "We expect to see the Authentic8 service implemented in the US, Europe and Asia within the next 12 months," noted Stephen Thompson, managing director of Authentic8 Australia. The Australian development team will retain responsibility for global product development.

CRM services supplier TeleTech has won a five-year extension to its contract covering the customer care outsourcing of the Kiwi Internet services provider Xtra, which is owned by Telecom New Zealand. TeleTech will provide technical support and billing services, as well as online customer registration, customer acquisition and loyalty programs for Xtra from a "customer interaction centre" in Auckland.

Telstra this week won a significant industrial relations battle when the Federal Court ruled that the outsourcing of Telstra's call centre work to Stellar Call Centres did not bind Stellar to Telstra's awards and enterprise agreements. The trade unions involved in the case are upset at the ruling but are not likely to appeal. A spokesman for Freehills, which acted for Stellar in the case, said the decision will overcome problems associated with previous Federal Court rulings which meant that any transfer of work led to a service provider being bound by a multitude of industrial arrangements. He added, however, that the decision does not necessarily pave the way for outsourcing without regard to the industrial relations arrangements of the outsourcer.

The Leo Burnett advertising agency has signed up as a corporate customer of wireless broadband services supplier SkyNetGlobal, which offers services to business travellers from airports, hotels and conference centres around the world. "A high proportion of our employees travel regularly and the ability to access e-mails, the Internet and our LAN at airport lounges without the hassles associated with wired connections will provide a significant boost in productivity as well as reducing frustration levels normally associated with searching for modem sockets and a workstation," noted Troy Ruhanen, CEO of Leo Burnett.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has moved to have a receiver appointed to troubled regional communications services supplier Maxis Corporation. The matter will be heard early next week by the Supreme Court of NSW, which will consider issues relating to governance, including possible insolvent trading offences. National Party identities Charles Blunt and Tim Fischer were directors of the company until they both tendered their resignations shortly after Christmas.

The Australian Trade Commission is about to lead an "E-Government Mission" to the UK to become involved with the British Government as it makes progress with its plan to move all government services online by 2005. Fourteen Australian companies that develop applications and provide services specific to government agencies are taking part in the one-week mission. Fiona Buffinton, senior trade commissioner in London, said that in order to reach its 2005 target the British Government is going to have to open its doors to the IT sector, and in doing so Australia has a very real opportunity to supply "quality, innovative IT solutions".

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More about ActivCardAustralian Trade Commission (Austrade)Authentic8FreehillsMaxisMaxisSkyNetGlobalTelecom New ZealandTeleTechTelstra CorporationXtra

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