CNI starts acquisition ball rolling

CNI starts acquisition ball rolling

CNI's bold bid to transform itself into a $500 million network "super integrator" officially began last week when it not only acquired Corporate Computer Sales (CCS) NSW but also ACT Networks in Western Australia.

And the acquisitions won't stop there. While it now has a presence in Victoria, NSW, South Australia and WA, according to managing director Lyle Potgeiter it will have operations in all major geographic regions. The CNI Group represents the Asia-Pacific battalion of the worldwide network integration army being assembled by South African giant Datatec.

The acquisition of ACT Networks in WA is particularly interesting because for the first time it threatens to loosen the stranglehold of dominant WA integrator Alpha West.

However, the CCS acquisition is undoubtedly the most critical to CNI, giving the integrator much-needed muscle in NSW. CCS is currently turning over $28 million in NSW but Potgeiter expects that the new NSW arm of CNI will have revenues of $50 to $60 million by the end of this year.

It now has almost 70 employees in NSW. Added to the 15 CNI already had in its NSW branch are more than 50 CCS employees.

"The acquisition of CCS means that CNI now has a major network services operation in Sydney with a substantial skills base to complement the integration expertise already present throughout the rest of Australia," Potgieter said. "CCS has an excellent reputation for quality service delivery and they have pioneered several services offerings in network management and lowering the cost of ownership of networks."

Potgeiter said CNI was attracted to both CCS and ACT Networks because both had strong networking services operations.

ACT Networks is Novell's largest reseller in WA, but also has strong general networking and Microsoft skills, AS/400, SNA, and network management expertise.

"Alpha West has now got a challenger," said Potgeiter.

"They're definitely going to feel the competition, because we're going to grow into that market and with the right funding, skills and management that is going to be an excellent catalyst," Potgeiter said.

Andrew Crow, sales director of ACT Networks, said: "For the first time in the WA market we're seeing a major international player stamping its territory here. Perth is quite isolated and when you're dealing with national and multinational customers, the decisions are often taken out of your hands and placed elsewhere. Having that national presence, and indeed the international presence, gives us the ability to play in a space we've traditionally been precluded from."

Tom Sidhom, CCS' sales director, agreed that international backing was a motivating factor in deciding to team with CNI.

"Our customers are driving this. Globalisation is already having a big impact and our customers and vendors are looking for global partners. We wanted to be a part of a group heading in that direction."

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