Another assembler bites the dust

Another assembler bites the dust

Just months after the closure of Australian PC assembly stalwart, Optima, former rival and Commander subsidiary, Ipex, is being wound down.

According to a recent creditors’ report from Commander administrators, Ferrier Hodgson, the failure of the receivers, McGrathNicol, to sell Ipex as part of Commander’s managed services business had left it no other option but to close the division. ASX-listed integrator, CSG, purchased Commander’s managed services business last month for an undisclosed sum.

“It became evident through the sale process that a going concern sale for this [Ipex] part of the MaPS [managed services] business would not be possible. This business is now being wound down through to 30 November,” the Ferrier Hodgson report stated.

ARN understands there are about 50 people left at Ipex who will lose their jobs. A source close to the company also claimed no customer orders had been accepted for the past couple of weeks. Requests for comment from McGrathNicol had not been answered at the time of going to press.

The document reported Ipex’s top-line revenues were just over $86.7 million in the 2008 financial year, with pre-tax earnings of just over $21 million. This was down from revenue of $97.2 million but higher pre-tax earnings of $21.9 million in 2007.

Administrators, Max Donnelly and Steven Sherman from Ferrier Hodgson, were appointed to Commander on August 7 after the company repeatedly failed to bring down its debt repayments. On the same day, Commander’s secured creditor, Westpac, appointed Peter Anderson, Chris Honey and Joseph Hayes from McGrathNicol as receivers.

Ipex was established in 1984 as a PC manufacturer by the Schwalb family in Victoria and was acquired by Volante for $70 million in February 2004. Volante was then acquired by Commander through a hostile takeover in April 2006.

The Ipex business, which represented 1.8 per cent of Australia’s PC marketshare in its heyday in 2004, was known for several lucrative contracts with State and Federal Government agencies. Although the company has been steadily losing market share since it was acquired by Volante, the loss of yet another Australian assembler just months after Optima closed its doors is indicative of the changing IT market and move away from local to tier-one multinationals, industry representatives claimed.

“The business model is changing because the products we are selling are changing. We used to be focused on desktops and the networking environment, but the shift from desktop to notebooks has been significant because locals can’t compete in that space,” TodayTech CEO, Jack Zhong, said.

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