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A leaner, meaner Solution 6

A leaner, meaner Solution 6

After dispensing with its IT services business last week, Solution 6 CEO Neil Gamble said the ASX-listed software company now has its eye on global markets.

Around 18 months ago, Gamble initiated a turnaround program for the company, which at the time was struggling to swallow the diverse range of acquisitions made under what Gamble terms "The Tyler regime". He refers to a period of slapdash business deals made in the late nineties under former Solution 6 CEO Chris Tyler, who resigned in May 2000 due to revelations of his history with failed companies and drug-related convictions.

The first step in Gamble's master plan was to stem the company's negative cash flow, a task he had achieved by the end of 2001. The second was to have a single focus, professional services software. With the management buyout of the company's IT services business, Alphawest 6, last week, Gamble considers that task to be more or less achieved.

There are now only three assets left on Solution 6's books that Gamble considers to be extraneous to the company's core business. The first is an equity investment in financial advisory firm Hartleys, shares of which the Tyler regime acquired in 1999. Hartleys has posted losses for both its last financial year and its most recent quarter.

The second is BDAK, a suburban certified practising accountancy in the US. This investment might be a small one but it has nonetheless been controversial -- the previous finance director of Solution 6, Tom Montgomery, sold it to Tyler in the late 1990s.

The third, and most substantial, asset is the Exonet business, which produces a range of popular enterprise software, no part of which Gamble considers part of Solution 6's professional services software focus.

Gamble said he is happy to "entertain offers" for any of these businesses.

These aside, Gamble is now looking toward to the third phase of his turnaround plan, the global growth of Solution 6's PSS business. He claims the company already has a global footprint for its products, particularly with the recent acquisition of Keystone Solutions, which has already bagged several multimillion-dollar international deals.

"There are parts of continental Europe and South America that are untapped markets for this software," he said.

Gamble is also particularly excited by the prospect of acquiring US-based HR and project management software vendor Novient. "The response we've seen from analysts is that this will be an industry-changing marriage," he said.

With over $40 million still in the bank, and a modest but profitable financial position, Gamble is confident the leaner, meaner Solution 6 is on the road to becoming a key international software vendor.


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