Cashed-up Optecom buys Dataplex

Optecom, the recently listed company chaired by Chris Kelliher, an IT identity and former managing director of Microsoft in Australia, has acquired communications products manufacturer Dataplex, including its 50-50 joint venture with US company BulletIN.net. The transaction was funded by the exchange of 3.75 million shares, plus funds to allow Dataplex to repay shareholder loans and to provide working capital.

A spokesman said the BulletIN.net venture will allow Optecom to provide a range of wireless messaging services based on SMS and WAP.

"The acquisition by Optecom will see Dataplex continue its traditional business while expanding into new areas, such as those pioneered by BulletIN," Kelliher noted.

Iocom turns its sights on global marketsIocom, an Australian IT outsourcer and systems integrator for SMEs, has opened an office in the US and plans to set up shop in Singapore to introduce its call centre services to a global audience. "The move is part of my aggressive expansion strategy that aims to capitalise on our existing infrastructure by selling our services and products globally," explained Peter Singer, Iocom's CEO.

"Much of our support and all of our co-ordination operations are managed electronically or over the phone. This enables us to run the call centres through our Sydney call centre, thus benefitting from Australia's low exchange rate that favours other currencies, including the US dollar."

Singer added that Iocom will consider acquiring international call centres to minimise costs and maximise profits through its Sydney operation.

Business briefs

Thiess has entered a joint venture with Siemens to offer complete telecommunications network solutions to Australian corporations. A spokesman said Siemens Thiess Communications will actively seek outsourcing opportunities in the telecommunications carrier and enterprise markets. The two companies previously worked together on the SILCAR venture, which recently secured a multimillion dollar telepower contract with Telstra.

SecureNet expects to complete its takeover of ETC Electronic Trading Concepts today (July 21). The deal will be funded by the payment of $A5 million in cash and the issue of some 454,000 shares, depending on SecureNet's share price. Further shares may be issued subject to performance targets being met.

US company CyberSentry has made a takeover bid for listed Australian company LibertyOne. The offer values LibertyOne's shares at 30 cents, a touch above their current 29.5 cents but well below the year's high of $A2.60. A spokesman said LibertyOne is a shareholder in CyberSentry through its wholly-owned subsidiary VisionNet Inc.

Sydney software investor Technology Licensing has taken a 75 per cent stake in Queensland IT services provider Future Corporation, which will use the backing to expand its operations in Queensland and to venture into NSW and the ACT. A spokesman said that Future Group supplies IT solutions to SMEs, government bodies and educational institutions. It also builds and sells about 10,000 PCs a year and is developing an Internet e-tail site to sell products Australia-wide. Technology Licensing has accepted an investment of $A1 million from Telco to fund the acquisition.

Powerlan has entered a joint venture with PharmaNet Online to tackle the provision of e-commerce products and services. PharmaNet will hold 51 per cent of the new venture, which will be named PNO tradeXpress. The first product to be marketed by the venture will be the B2B Trading Exchange Technology from US developer Businessbots.

US software developer Catuity, which is listed on the ASX, has filed to be listed on the NASDAQ Small Cap market in the US. The company develops software to manage customer loyalty and incentive marketing, which it sells through a network of VARs. A spokesman said the application to list on NASDAQ is the last element in Catuity's strategy to become a publicly-traded US corporation.

Corporate quarters

Still desperately struggling to find avenues for growth, IBM saw its revenue decline one per cent to $US21.7 billion in the second quarter, while net profit slipped from $US2.4 billion a year ago to $US1.9 billion. But a turnaround is on the way, according to CEO Louis Gerstner. "We exited the second quarter with a significant shift in momentum in several areas", he claimed. Specifically he said that Big Blue's services business "re-ignited" mid-way through the quarter, along with a number of product areas such as Web management software, e-business consulting, Web hosting, systems integration and wireless chips. "Importantly we saw a firming of our server business, particularly Web servers -- which grew revenues nearly 30 per cent. Our high-end disk drive revenues, led by our advanced Shark product, also grew 30 per cent," Gerstner said. Revenue from IBM's Asia/Pacific operations increased 20 per cent to $US4.3 billion.

Microsoft had a tough time winning sales to business users in its fourth quarter to June 30 when revenue inched up from $US5.76 billion to $US5.80 billion and net profit grew from $US2.20 billion to $US2.41 billion. John Connors, CFO, noted that business in Asia had "rebounded nicely" during the quarter and the consumer business had enjoyed a significant increase in revenue. Revenue from the business sector is expected to pick up in first quarter of Microsoft's new financial year as the Windows 2000 server products reach the market.

Despite difficulties in meeting customer demand, Intel lifted second quarter revenue 23 per cent to $US8.3 billion and net profit a solid 98 per cent to $US3.5 billion. A spokesman said demand had been strong in all business groups, but particularly microprocessors, flash memory and networking silicon. However, he was cautious about Intel's ability to continue to meet demand for all chips. "Our ability to respond to changes in demand will remain limited," he admitted.

Apple Computer has continued its recent habit of operating in the black with a net profit of $US163 million in its third quarter to July 1. The result was 43 per cent higher than the previous third quarter and did not include a $US37 million gain from the sale of shares in ARM Holdings. Revenue for the third quarter was up 17 per cent to $US1.82 billion, and Apple sold slightly more than one million computers during the period.

After warning investors in early July that its first quarter performance would not be up to scratch, Computer Associates made a net profit of $US180 million for the period after accounting for a special gain of $US153 million. In the previous first quarter the company lost $US374 million after accounting for a charge of $US646 million related to its acquisition of Platinum Technologies. Revenue for the quarter rose just five per cent from $US1.22 billion to $US1.28 billion.

EMC powered through its second quarter by lifting net profit 50 per cent to $US429 million and breaking through the $US2 billion revenue mark for the first time. Revenue rose 30 per cent to $US2.15 billion. "Storage has become the hottest of all information technologies because it now determines an organisation's ROI -- return on information," claimed Mike Ruttgers, CEO of EMC. "Growth, profitability and differentiation are all predicated on how much and how well organisations use their information".

Sun Microsystems reached a higher milestone when for the first time it recorded revenue greater than $US5 billion. In the period to June 30 net revenue rose 42 per cent to $US5.02 billion and net profit jumped 67 per cent to $US659.5 million. Ed Zander, COO of Sun, claimed the company had made inroads on the market shares of its competitors and had expanded into new areas, such as middleware, storage and professional services.

Lucent Technologies lifted pro forma profit 30 per cent to $US1.007 billion in its third quarter, while pro forma revenue increased 20 per cent from $US7.24 billion to $US8.71 billion. Most of the revenue was derived from the services provider networks sector and was generated in the US. Growth outside the US was almost non-existent.

Sybase lifted net profit from $US13.9 million to $US23.6 million in its second quarter on revenue that rose 11 per cent from $US210.2 million to $US234.1 million.

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