Oakton snaps up Aston IT

ASX-listed IT services company Oakton has continued its run of acquisitions, snapping up Microsoft Solutions business partner, Aston IT, for $4 million.

Aston IT, formerly GEM Integrated Solutions, was conceived when large Danish IT services group, Aston, attempted to buy Brisbane-based Navision reseller, Naviteam, Sydney-based service provider, Management Control Systems (MCS), and Melbourne-based service provider, GEM Integrated Solutions, in 2000.

The deal with GEM fell through, however, yet the small Melbourne solution provider still chose to operate under the ‘Aston’ name from then on. The company’s 30 staff will all continue to be employed by Oakton, whose staff will now number about 330.

Only one of Aston’s three directors will not come under the employment of Oakton.

Oakton managing director, Paul Holyoake, said his company would run the Aston business as it is for now, and later consolidate it into Oakton’s Hawthorn premises.

He said the Aston IT business was operating profitably prior to acquisition.

Holyoake said the acquisition reflected the company’s intention to build a closer working relationship with Microsoft, particularly in the business solutions area.

Microsoft’s business solutions division sells the financial and CRM software of acquired software vendors such as Great Plains and Navision.

“We think Microsoft’s acquisition of Great Plains and Navision will make them a key player in the tier two market,” he told ARN. “They bought some very good businesses and in my view they will dominate this space. Microsoft simply wouldn’t spend this amount of money unless they were sure they could dominate that market.”

Last year, Oakton acquired the Australian arm of Tier Consulting for $7.7 million as well as Oracle distributor and systems integrator mPower for $7.5 million.

Holyoake said both businesses were performing well under Oakton’s ownership.

“Both have managed to increase margins while hanging on to their existing customers,” he said.

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