CHA calls it quits with CHS, NAI

CHA calls it quits with CHS, NAI

After months of deliberation, Computer Hardware of Australia (CHA) finally pulled the plug on its sale agreement with US-based CHS Electronics late December, capping off a turbulent year for the distributor.

Meanwhile, CHA simultaneously announced its partnership with Network Associates International (NAI) had disintegrated, with both par- ties claiming to have terminated the relationship.

CHS only acquired CHA five months earlier in July through an `earn out' relationship that would have been completed in July 2001, but numerous financial woes left CHS unable to meet its obligations.

CHA's managing director, Stephen Sampson, said CHS would retain the option to match any offer from any other party that may take an interest in purchasing CHA in the future.

`The net effect of this change is that CHA is now the only independently owned Australian brand name distributor in the market,' Sampson said.

`This gives CHA the ability to respond rapidly to the needs of our resellers because we can make all of our strategic decisions locally without waiting for approval from overseas owners.'NAI was also a short-lived partner, with CHA only signing on as the national distribution partner for NAI's retail and corporate products in April. At the time, CHA predicted it would generate around $12 million in revenue over the next 12 months from NAI sales.

A press release from CHA stated it terminated its distribution agreement with NAI due to `a severe lack of local support, intense channel conflict and the favouring of specific distribution partners in the local market.'However, NAI's regional channel manager, Nicki Bain, disputes this claim, saying that in fact NAI was the one to terminate the agreement because CHA would not pay its bills.

`They had substantial problems committing to pay us,' Bain said. `They had issues about how we were supporting them, but we can't give dedicated support if you can't pay your bills. They say we weren't supportive, but some of their staff have phoned us to ask for jobs, so we must be doing something right.

`It's interesting that they say they terminated the relationship, but I have documentation in the office to prove it was the other way around.'CHA's national marketing manager, James Robbins, disputes there were payment issues but told ARN there was truth in the claim that NAI wanted to end the relationship.

He said the two companies decided to terminate the agreement at the same time, and the documents `probably crossed paths' in the post.

CHA's other hiccup in 1999 was losing managing director Roger Bushell in late September. Bushell said he would `pursue other interests' such as property and other financial investments after falling out with CHS over the company's direction. `It wasn't hostile but there was a difference of opinion,' Bushell said.

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