Merisel Australia is no more. At 9am on Friday March 8, the entire Merisel Australia staff of around 140 people was gathered in a meeting at the Lane Cove head office. A teary ex-MD and now senior vice-president with US headquarters, Verilyn Smith, had flown out from the US to tell her staff that the head office in the US had sold the entire Australian operation to Tech Pacific.
At the end of the meeting, most employees were "outplaced" by staff from Morgan and Banks, though around 50 have been offered temporary positions at Rosebery to tie up the loose ends in the shutdown, and a few will get permanent positions.
This was the first most people knew of what was happening. A handful of suppliers had been told that week - and a half dozen or so Merisel managers had been phoned the night before.
Meanwhile fax machines were running hot. From Verilyn Smith one fax went out to all Merisel resellers. It briefly announced the purchase and asked resellers to wait until Monday before placing any orders. Another fax went out on Tech Pacific letterhead from MD David Arnott, informing suppliers of the change and asking them to supply a complete list of all outstanding Merisel purchase orders by Monday 11th.
The sale is believed to have been initiated by Merisel in the US, following five quarters of losses and a recent management reshuffle. It reportedly contacted Tech Pacific at the beginning of this year. Merisel US said in a press release, "Merisel received considerationÊof approximately $US10 million in the form of repayment of certain intercompany debt obligations."
Most people in the computer industry in Australia said they were shocked to hear the news. News that travelled fast that Friday morning.