The latest instalment of the Commander saga hit the ARN newsdesk last week and raised more questions than it provided answers. The company’s receivers, McGrathNicol, announced the sale of the embattled integrator’s telecommunications assets, including its national franchise network, to a newly created private equity firm, Commander Telecom Group.
The group, which ARN understands was formed just a couple of days before the announcement, consists of several local and international telecommunications investors. Further details are being kept confidential until settlement, which is expected on or before December 5.
There’s plenty of speculation going about as to who’s behind the bid, but details have been kept (surprisingly) under wraps. A proposal put forth by a management consortium consisting of Commander’s former managing director, Adrian Coote, was on the shortlist but was rejected, as was a bid by an unnamed telecoms integrator in conjunction with Telstra.
News that the telecommunications business is being sold as an ongoing concern with the majority of staff should be good news for those involved or dealing with the company, and I’m sure there are some Commander Centre franchise owners who are thankful they won’t have to fork out for new business cards or paint a fresh logo across the door.
But isn’t the Commander brand already too tainted? Can the new owners shake the stigma the entire company has gained over the past year? One of the biggest charges levelled against Commander’s former management team was that they tried to grow the company too fast and made its customer focus too broad. The Volante acquisition has often been labelled as the tipping point for its crushing debt, as well as for diffusing its business focus.
Having the telecoms business back in the hands of a telecoms-focused group should be a blessing. It will be interesting to see how this is handled going forward and it’ll be the expertise of the consortium that will decide whether the telecoms business comes out of this troubled period.
Concerns around what will happen to the thousands of orphaned Optima dealers and customers without warranty support were also allayed somewhat last week after administrator, Moore Stephens, appointed Impact Systems to takeover the PC assembler’s warranty claims.
One regional Queensland dealer, who asked not to be named, was disappointed the administrators had taken so long to resolve the warranty issue. The dealer also pointed out the cost of shipping products to Impact to get fixed, along with labour, made it prohibitively expensive. It’s a catch-22 situation, but at least there is some outcome for the many Optima customers out there.
On a final note, in his first interview with ARN, incoming managing director of Ingram Micro Australia, Jay Miley, stressed the importance of building strong vendor and reseller relationships. With no former experience in this market, Miley is promising to bring a fresh perspective. As the financial gloom settles in he’s going to have his hands full. Stay tuned for future reports on his initiatives and direction.