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Wayne's World Shrinks

Wayne's World Shrinks

Focus Technologies, the techno-group painstakingly stitched together by ex-Sausage CEO Wayne Bos, is unravelling.

Focus is going into suspended animation as a public listed company and dropping plans to acquire two Sydney companies, Redstar ITC and TIG International.

Bos, the chairman of Focus, resigned last month as CEO of Tomorrow Ltd, the investment arm of Sir Ron Brierley's Guiness Peat Group.

Without that link to Tomorrow's investment war chest of $24 million, the appeal of being folded into Focus apparently faded for electronic catalogue company Redstar and wireless technology business TIG.

The heads of agreement under which they were to be acquired have been cancelled.

Focus, which rose from the ashes of listed dotcom 131shop.com.au, has also withdrawn the prospectus for re-listing its modified business on the ASX.

Its future directions are now unclear but may have nothing to do with technology.

"We are starting with a clean sheet of paper," said Focus director and former 131shop chairman Alan Phillips.

"Our energies will be devoted to identifying another business opportunity."

While that might be in the technology area, "you have to recognise what the market is interested in and not swim against the current," Phillips said.

Bos said Focus will be seeking "different types of investment opportunities both in terms of the size of companies and their market focus."

It has also managed to raise the $1 million needed to fund its plans.

"This is the right time to be planting your seeds for the next boom period, but we haven't seen the worst of the market yet.

"At the moment, the market prefers to see something a bit more solid and in times like this you have to be conservative because nobody is going to invest in an idea."

Focus' new direction is unlikely to be unveiled before its annual general meeting scheduled for November.

Apart from the new investment, the company's bank account still holds between $600,000 to $900,000, left over from 131shop's public float in July 1999.

This recent investment was partly provided by an injection of about $500,000, through the purchase of a 20 per cent stake by the company Online Advantage.

Assets also include options over 19.9 per cent of enterprise assets management company Mincom, which itself is seeking new investors.

The options are related to shares held by Mincom employees and Mincom's management has initiated a preemptive rights process that could lead to the shares being bought by other shareholders or external investors.

It is believed Bos is still negotiating with Tomorrow Ltd over acquiring the 10 million Focus options it holds.

Jeanne-Vida Douglas contributed to this story.


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