Rivals weigh up Commander assets

Rivals weigh up Commander assets

Several Commander competitors register expressions of interest in assets but say a sale could take time to achieve

With Commander’s (ASX:CDR)receivers looking to sell its assets, rivals are lining up to participate in the sales process. But some claim what little IT assets remain in the group aren't looking very tantalising.

UXC business solutions group managing director, Cris Nicolli, has expressed interest with Commander’s receivers and expects many others to enter the fray.

“I imagine there are some great people in there and some good infrastructure that might be useful, but I suspect this will take a while to pan out,” he said. “That business has been a mix of companies over the years with Volante, Ipex and Commander, and people on the outside don’t know what shape it’s in until the receivers put out their memorandum.”

Data#3 managing director, John Grant, has also registered to participate in the Commander sale but wouldn’t elaborate further. The Queensland-based integrator has already picked up Commander’s entire Microsoft Large Account Reseller (LAR) team in Western Australia as well as key licensing staff in Melbourne and has nabbed about 40 staff from its beleagured competitor to date.

Datacom will also participate but CEO, Michael Browne, claimed most competitors were already circumventing the sales process by picking up customers direct.

“We’ve put in an expression of interest but don’t know what that will mean yet,” Browne said. “The way the receivers handle it is very time-sensitive – the value could erode quickly as people and clients look elsewhere.”

Leading Solutions managing director, Frank Colli, wasn't convinced there would be many IT assets left to buy and claimed what customers were left would be expecting low-cost product procurement and services that weren't sustainable.

"There may be some good people left but even if you picked up parts of the IT business the problem is they wouldn't be very profitable - you would have to re-educate those customers to pay more and could you be sure you'd be able to convert them?" he said. "We have picked up a few good Commander contracts before they went broke - we told these customers we would like to work with them but couldn't do it at the margins they had been used to with Commander without going out of business. The good thing is we were able to retain most of them."

3DNetworks had already picked up its share of Commander’s Nortel customer base and wouldn’t participate in the sale, CEO, Chris Luxford, said.

“I’d say the biggest asset is Commander’s franchise business and the second thing is the managed services – both of which are not in our field,” he said.

Despite hiring several Commander staff, Corporate Express general manager of IT Solutions, Marcus Heron, was also keeping away from the receivers.

“Customers build up respect for the people they deal with – if these people move to organisations that can service them well, we’ve often seen customers follow them,” he said.

Former Commander enterprise group manager, Steve Evans, who left the company in January, expected the networking management business would garner some interest.

“I think the network is very strong and there were a number of customers,” he said. “It should be a Telstra, Optus or someone who wants to take a substantial hold in that space. I also think the key telephony maintenance business is valuable and a lot of key SMB customers who have been loyal to Commander over the years.

“A lot of the managed services business is getting old now and many of those contracts came out of Ipex – I’m not sure what value is left there now.”

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Tags CommanderDatacomData#3Leading SolutionsCris NicolliChris LuxfordSteve Evans3DNetworksMarcus HeronUXCFrank ColliJohn GrantMichael Browne


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