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Mother's milk for Com Tech

South Africa's Australian channel invasion continued to intensify last week after Com Tech Communications' parent company, Dimension Data, announced an acquisition that is set to pump more international dollars into the channel.

South African IT integration giant Dimension Data has acquired the European networking business of South African competitor Comparex Holdings for around $2 billion.

Once finalised, the deal will make Dimension Data one of the world's largest networking services companies, with representation in four continents - Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia.

But while the acquisition gives Dimension Data, South Africa's largest IT integration company, significant penetration into the European market, Com Tech is looking to reap the benefits of global business in Australia.

According to Com Tech's managing director, David Shein, the company will benefit from European-based companies such as banks and financial institutions looking to gain a foothold in Asia-Pacific markets.

"The opportunity is for us to say we will have a global footprint for multi-service networks," he said.

However, Shein conceded the challenge will be to ensure Com Tech can match the same quality of service levels in the network integration business as Comparex. The deal does not include Comparex's international storage, open systems, enterprise, consulting and security businesses, or any of its South African businesses.

Comparex Holdings management will not assume positions within Dimension Data and there will be no changes to the composition of Dimension Data's board of directors.

Meanwhile, Com Tech also strengthened its market position last week with the acquisition of Brisbane-based consulting services provider Nets & Webs, in a bid to meet what it reports is increasing market demand for Microsoft consultants.

Queensland state manager for Com Tech, Joe D'Addio, said the Nets & Webs acquisition will bring skills in the high-end Microsoft consulting and engineering arena to the integrator.

"From the Com Tech perspective, our broader expertise across areas such as networking, security and new technologies means we can now offer a range of services. Our combined presence positions us very strongly in the Microsoft consulting space," D'Addio said.

According to Com Tech, the acquisition complements its existing resource base with "sought after" technical expertise in Windows technology.

Nets & Webs designs, develops and implements businesses introducing Microsoft technologies.

Com Tech's online marketing specialist, Martin Aungle, said the company had been finding it "very difficult" to meet the market demand for people with Microsoft expertise, and added that the problem would be exacerbated with the release of Windows 2000 next year.

Aungle denied suggestions that the company was gearing itself for a public listing, saying that the acquisition of Nets & Webs would have no impact on Com Tech's future as a private company.