Specialist education reseller Impaq has fallen on troubled times, appointing an external administrator and selling off its various business units.
Administrators James Stewart and Peter Walker of Ferrier Hodgson have already sold the company’s ISP business to ASX-listed telecommunications provider Datafast, and are currently undertaking urgent negotiations with potential buyer’s of the company’s proprietary education software IP.
Stewart said Impaq ran into financial difficulty due to a lack of working capital.
Impaq began its operations in Melbourne in 1997, originally as an ISP. As the ISP market consolidated, the company moved into content provision. The company built a second business division around the installation of thin client computers, broadband connectivity and intranet solutions on school campuses, enabling students and staff to access the network via VPN from home. The company also developed e-learning software to enable schools to push educational content on these networks.
The ISP sale
The administrators arranged for the sale of Impaq’s original ISP business in under a week.
While not disclosing the terms of the deal, Datafast CEO, Simon Ehrenfeld, said the acquired ISP business included a database of more than 2000 subscribers to Impaq’s dial-up ISP services.
Ehrenfeld said that while he thought the education business had a huge future, he was not interested in acquiring it as content was “not [Datafast’s] core competency.”
Impaq’s ISP customers were for the most part residential dial-up subscribers that had also at some stage been educated at one of the exclusive schools that accessed Impaq’s educational software via VPN/Intranet.
“The Impaq business is quite straightforward so we expect integration to be completed within 14 days at minimal cost,” he said.
Datafast is offering to fulfill the remainder of any subscriptions held with Impaq free of charge and will also continue to offer the customers the terms and plans they had been subscribing to under their previous supplier.
Ehrenfeld said Impaq’s ISP subscribers were on “very good deals” with their old provider, but the real value in the acquisition would be in encouraging those customers to trade up and connect to broadband services.
More than 10 per cent of Datafast’s customers were connected to broadband, he said.
He predicted that at least 10 per cent of Impaq’s ISP customers will do the same.
The content sale
The administrators have indicated that it would be the best interest of the 40-plus schools that rely on Impaq that the company’s software assets are sold as soon as possible.
“I am urgently seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in buying the company’s proprietary software on the basis that they may continue to support the school client base into the future,” administrator, James Stewart, said.
ARN understands that there are several companies already in negotiations with the administrator.
Stewart said it was vital that the schools’ services were not interrupted as they were currently moving into examination periods.
Since Ferrier Hodgson was appointed late last week the company has reduced its staffing levels from 22 to 18. In its heyday during the dotcom boom, the company employed more than 40 staff.