Cashed-up Oakton goes shopping for the E

Cashed up as a result of its recent ASX listing, software developer Oakton Computing has acquired Melbourne e-commerce solutions developer Frontline Consulting. A spokesman said Frontline has experience in the implementation of ERP solutions for government, financial, distribution and manufacturing organisations and will provide Oakton with additional expertise in Oracle's e-business solutions.

The acquisition was made for an initial price of $A1.32 million payable immediately with additional payments of up to $A880,000 over three years if profit growth targets are met. Frontline will change its name to Oakton and its staff will move to Oakton's Melbourne headquarters.

Steve Vizard, chairman of Oakton, said the takeover represented "a step" in Oakton's plans to boost its e-business and multimedia activities through acquisitions and alliances.

SecureNet's Asian deals attract PCCW

The recent expansion of an e-commerce joint venture between ASX-listed Australian company SecureNet and Cable & Wireless Hong Kong Telecom attracted the keen interest of Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW), which is edging ever closer to its goal of taking over C&W HKT. As a result, PCCW has agreed to take a five per cent stake in SecureNet for about $A32 million, with an option to take a further 10 per cent.

Geoffrey Ross, managing director of SecureNet, said the C&W HKT venture is focused on the delivery of e-commerce solutions facilitated by SecureNet's smart cards and other e-commerce and Internet security products.

He added that the strong reach of PCCW in the region will allow SecureNet to accelerate its expansion into the Pan Asian region. "With PCCW we will now expand into Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau and India and enhance our offering in mainland China," he explained.

DCS buys into Kiwi CRM supplier

DCS Technologies, the listed company formerly known as Data Card Systems, has bought a 50 per cent share of MarketSmart New Zealand, which has developed customer relationship management and loyalty management software. A spokesman described the deal as a "million dollar investment".

DCS has also finalised its acquisition of 50 per cent of MainStreet Marketing Group, which is the MarketSmart licence holder for New Zealand.

As a result of the investments DCS chairman John Gillon and director Russ Parham have been appointed to the board of a new company known as MarketSmart International A spokesman said MarketSmart recently negotiated a contract that allows it access to the EFTPOS service run by Electronic Transactions Services. The system hosts 65,000 Kiwi merchants and the deal allows MarketSmart to run private label cards on existing devices and to increase the number of devices in use.

MarketSmart expects to gain international exposure through a deal it is negotiating with a Caribbean company that operates in dual currencies, including US dollars.

Business briefs

Telstra won no friends at Computershare during the week when it decided to offload 53.3 million shares, which represented 10 per cent of the issued capital of Computershare. Telstra said that at the discounted price of $A72.5 per share it made a gross profit of $A192 million on the deal. It retains a holding representing about five per cent of Computershare shares. Staff and shareholders of Computershare were understandably annoyed with the deal, which brought a prompt cut to the company's share price.

Among the many investments and alliances struck in the dot-com arena this week, ANZ Bank threw its weight behind MultiEmedia.com by taking a 15 per cent stake with an option to increase that stake within three years. Under the terms of the deal MultiMedia.com will make its Zone Studio products available through the ANZ BizSite to built a Web site building service for ANZ's customers.

Asian e-commerce player Chinadotcom has invested $US5 million to buy 7.75 million shares in online advertising player BMCMedia, with options on a further 7.75 million shares.

Listed messaging company EasyCall International plans to launch its secondary offering on the main board of the Singapore Stock Exchange by August 12 after being granted a one-month extension to its in-principle approval. The company is implementing an IP network infrastructure in several countries in Asia and plans to launch IP services in the Philippines and Malaysia by the end of August.

Voicenet, which is listed on the ASX, has listed its US subsidiary Voicenet Inc on the American Stock Exchange. A spokesman said the US listing should attract the attention of US-based institutional investors and provide immediate benefits to shareholders in Australia by allowing free market trading of shares held in Voicenet Inc, rather than facing the restrictions of the OTC Bulletin Board systems.

Listed Australian broadband technology provider Quadtel has entered an agreement with Internet media company Yahoo which will result in the provision of links to Yahoo properties at the Web sites of Quadtel's customers. A spokesman explained that Quadtel's clients include ISPs and companies rolling out broadband networks and associated services.

Financial affairs at home

Reckon, the Australian company that -- among other things - distributes Intuit software in Australia, expects its software revenue for the half year to June 30 to reach $A34.6 million, which is within one per cent of its prospectus forecast. A statement released by the company noted that sales of accounting software, were particularly strong in May and June ahead of the introduction of the GT.

Global Business Solutions lifted billings in the year to June 30 to $A4.2 million, which was 90 per cent growth over the $A2.1 million generated in the previous year. Barry Wong, chief executive of Global, noted that growth had been strong in the company's core activities. "These figures reflect substantial growth in Global's core business of security solutions and augments growth in our e-business solutions, not least in database management tools," Wong explained.

Online broker E*Trade lifted trading volume 500 per cent in its year to June 30, when gross revenue is expected to exceed $A20 million. The company now has more than 55,000 customer accounts and claims to handle more than a quarter of all ASX online trades.

Corporate quarters

Gateway lifted its second quarter net profit 36 per cent to $US122 million on revenue that rose 12 per cent to $US2.14 billion. During the quarter the company lifted total unit shipments 17 per cent to 1.2 million units, while its consumer division lifted unit shipments by 39 per cent and revenue by 32 per cent. Gateway's Asia/Pacific operations lifted revenue 20 per cent during the quarter.

SCO has warned investors that it expects its revenue and profit for the third quarter to be below analysts' estimates. The company expects revenue to be between $US26 million and $US28 million, which is a significant slump from $US57.1million a year ago. The company also expects to report a loss for the quarter.

SGI has also warned that its forecast loss is likely to blow out in the fourth quarter to June 30, when revenue will come in at between $US525 million and $US535 million, compared with $US829 million a year ago. In the previous fourth quarter the company made a net profit of $US22 million, which was boosted to $US158 million after accounting for its sale of MIPS.

There was more cheer at Motorola, which lifted second quarter net profit 91 per cent from $US269 million to $US515 million, before accounting for special items. Revenue for the quarter jumped from $US7.6 billion a year ago to $US9.3 billion.

Canadian software developer Geac lifted fourth quarter sales 28 per cent to $C265.4 million (about $A310 million) from $C207.6 million a year ago, and pulled its loss back from $C234.0 million (after accounting for a one off charge of $C268.9 million) to $C9.8 million. The company warned that the next two quarters will be tough with "revenue and earnings weakness".

B2B commerce platform Ariba lifted third quarter revenue to $US80.7 million, which was 101 per cent higher than the second quarter and 578 per cent higher than the previous third quarter. Net loss was $US11.3 million, compared with $US6.0 million a year earlier.

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