The fight for ownership of Internet services company Techway looks closer to resolution following the decision of major shareholder Hypercom to sell its stock to WA-based Intellect Australia.
Hypercom's decision to sell its stock rather than pursue a takeover bid of its own leaves Intellect and investment firm Nova Pacific vying for Techway. Nova has increased its bid from 38 cents to 45 cents per Techway share, and now holds 18.7 per cent of the company.
The sale of Hypercom's 12.7 per cent stake brings Intellect's holding to over 28 per cent.
However, the Intellect bid closes on 4 April, and is dependent on the company controlling at least 70 per cent of Techway.
Techway has also sold the remainder of its Tangent professional services and resources division. Techway managing director Jon Brett says that while the company is the subject of a takeover bid it was still free to sell the division, although he sought written permission from the bidders and the Australian Stock Exchange prior to proceeding.
All that remains of Techway now is its cash holdings, its share in software developer Softway and its Web Australia Internet development company. Web Australia's Internet Banker product provided the engine behind both the Advance Bank and Commonwealth bank online banking solutions.
According to Intellect's vice-president of worldwide marketing, Geoff Gander, it is Web Australia that holds his company's interest. Gander said his company has been looking at Techway, and particularly Web Australia, for the last 12 months.
"Our original discussions with Techway were to license worldwide (apart from Australia) the Internet Banker products and other stuff out of Web Australia, so that's where we started our dialogue with them.
"We then went a little bit further, and it became obvious that Jon Brett and the team were probably under an agenda to sell off bits and pieces of Techway. So then we said why don't we take over Web Australia, which is only a subsidiary of Techway. That was very much where we were heading, and then all of a sudden Nova Pacific put a bid on the table for the whole shooting match."
Gander says he hopes Hypercom's move to sell its Techway stock to Intellect will spur other shareholders to do likewise. But Nova Pacific managing director Paul Davis says his company is still very much in the running for Techway, and believes Nova's cash offer will be more attractive to shareholders.
While Intellect is waiting for the final outcome of its Techway bid, Gander said the company will look to make further acquisitions this year. "We certainly have a couple targeted for the future but we'd like to get this one bedded down first. But you can expect more activity - possibly more overseas activity - in the next 12 months," he said.