Iocom giveaway launches export push

Listed developer Iocom has launched its FullCRM suite of CRM applications on the world stage by undertaking a $A10 million giveaway. The products were formally released at this week's Comdex conference in Las Vegas by Iocom's US subsidiary UBSP and the company expects to give away 20 million FullCRM CD-ROMs in English-speaking countries next year. UBSP expects to generate revenue through the sale of service and plug-in modules, which will cost between $US500 and $US2000 each.

To fund the distribution program UBSP has entered a partnership with US venture marketing firm IMC Capital to provide the print of the CD-ROMs valued at about $US3.6 million and advertising worth a further $US2 million.

"Based on research commissioned by UBSP, it is estimated that of the 20 million CD-ROMs that are distributed, five per cent of customers will use or test the product," explained Peter Singer, CEO of Iocom. "Furthermore, out of the five per cent, 10 per cent will spend $US500 in the first 12 months and another 15 per cent in the following 12 months. Iocom will provide services, such as 24-hour telephone and e-mail support for FullCRM customers on a contract or per incident basis." However, support will only be available to customers who have purchased a maintenance subscription.

Singer said he expects UBSP to be cash flow positive before June 2001.

Telstra and PCCW raise $US2bn

The Internet Protocol Backbone Company established by Telstra and Pacific Century Cyberworks has raised a $US2 billion loan which will be used to pay PCCW for equalisation of the assets it contributed to the joint venture.

Paul Rizzo, Telstra's group managing director of finance and administration, noted that the syndicated loan will be led by Chase Manhattan Bank and Barclays Bank and has attracted strong interest internationally. "This is not a start-up venture but an alliance between two operational companies with strong international networks," he explained. "From day one it is expected to become the leading carrier of voice and data Internet traffic in non-Japan Asia, and among the top global wholesale carriers."

Rizzo said the IPBC loan was developed in parallel with PCCW's $US4.7 billion term borrowing, which was announced in Hong Kong this week.

ASIC sets sights on MYOB

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has announced that it intends to take Supreme Court proceedings challenging the financial statements of accounting software developer MYOB for the six months to June 30. ASIC is concerned that the way the company recorded assets it acquired last year.

Craig Winkler, CEO of MYOB, said it was disappointing that ASIC and the company had not been able to resolve the issue, but claimed that the company had complied with all legal and accounting requirements.

The company claims it recorded the assets in question at their book in accordance with the accounting standards of the time, which were later amended by Parliament. MYOB "intends to vigorously defend its position".

Convergent swallowed by NetStar

Hong Kong networking and e-commerce company NetStar has bought Queensland company Convergent Communications, which will become the development centre for NetStar's integrated voice and data solutions. The combined company will have around 200 employees in Australia.

Kent Brooks, managing director of NetStar Australia, said the takeover will accelerate the injection of voice technology into the company. "Data and voice are converging and in order to meet customer needs, companies have to be able to understand both sides of the equation," he explained. Brooks added that Convergent was doing "some very smart things" with voice that could be migrated to data networks.

Access1 buys training specialist

Access1 has bought vocational training developer Didasko Software to provide content for its satellite-based distribution network and for its alliance networks, Telstra Big Pond Advance and Davnet. An Access1 spokesman said the delivery of multimedia training direct to the PC in the workplace had been a goal of the company from the outset.

Didasko has to date focused on training for the hospitality, security and cleaning industries, but is developing a number of products that will increase its product streams to about 20.

Andrew Horton, managing director of Didasko, will continue to run the company and will take a seat on the Access1 board, along with John Fear, Didasko's director of operations.

Worldwide buys Singaporean manufacturer

Perth company Worldwide Technology Group has agreed to buy Singaporean company DP Computers , which manufactures and distributes computer hardware under the NCL brand. The acquisition will help Worldwide expand its business in Asia, explained Michael Wong, director of Worldwide. "Worldwide aims to expand DP Computers' already profitable business through internally-generated growth, new products, acquisitions and the formation of strategic alliances, and we are looking globally for synergy partners to enhance the company's IT potential.

Worldwide intends to raise $A500,000 through the issue of 2.5 million shares at 20 cents, with five million options attached.

Business briefs

Australian stock transfer specialist Computershare has agreed to buy Merrill Lynch's employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) business, which will be integrated into its own operation. Merrill Lynch has more than 300 clients for its ESPP service, with a staff of 100 in the US. Computershare entered the US market in February when it bought the shareholder services business of Harris Bank.

Western Australian company IPT Systems, which made a back-door listing through Nexus Minerals, has announced that Garry Trevor and Martin Jones of Ferrier Hodgson have been appointed joint administrators of MTIC Corporate, in which IPT has an 80 per cent stake. As a result of the move, the shares of IPT have been suspended from trade.

Infomedia has completed the acquisition of Perth software developer On-Line Computing, which specialises in business management and accounting systems, electronic automotive trading networks and systems integration for retail automotive dealerships. Richard Graham, CEO of Infomedia, said the acquisition will provide Infomedia with the foundation of a national electronic trading network employing open network standards for all Australian business management systems.

As NetComm continues its transformation from modem maker to broadband carrier it has decided it no longer needs a distribution agreement with Western Australian company WebSpy. Instead the WebSpy product range will be distributed in Australia and NZ by Janteknology, which operates from the Sydney suburb of Baulkham Hills.

Queensland IT integrator Data#3 has entered a preferred partnership agreement with eGlobal International in order to tackle the implementation of SAP software in SMEs. Under the terms of the deal eGlobal has appointed Data#3 as a preferred technology infrastructure provider for its SAP Practice and its own e-business solutions, while Data#3 has appointed eGlobal as a preferred SAP implementation partner.

Corporate quarters

The US and European markets were stunned this week when Hewlett-Packard failed to perform up to expectations for its fourth quarter and then announced it would not pursue its takeover of PricewaterhouseCoopers's consulting business. In the fourth quarter HP lifted revenue 17 per cent from $US11.4 billion to $US13.3 billion and made a net profit of $US922 million, which was some 20 per cent below analysts' expectations. "We are pleased that revenue growth is accelerating but very disappointed that we missed our EPS growth target this quarter due to the confluence of a number of issues that we now understand and are urgently addressing," noted Carly Fiorina, HP's CEO. "I accept full responsibility for the shortfall," she added.

There were no such problems at Dell, where third quarter performance matched analysts' revised expectations. Revenue for the quarter rose from $US6.78 billion to $US8.26 billion and net profit rose 40 per cent to $US674 million. The company had warned in October that revenue would slip up to three per cent because of problems in European markets. Elsewhere, however, Dell's notebook and server shipments are growing strongly.

Network file storage specialist Network Appliance lifted revenue 109 per cent from $US124.7 million to $US260.8 million in its second quarter to October 27. Pro forma net profit for the quarter rose 128 per cent from $US16.1 million to $US36.6 million.

Telecom New Zealand made a net profit of $NZ161 million (about $A123 million) in the three months to September 30 when revenue reached $NZ1291 million. During the quarter subsidiary company AAPT achieved 42 per cent growth in revenue, while Telecom's businesses excluding AAPT grew just 4.8 per cent.

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