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Gloves off in $3b tender

By Aimee McClinchy

Friday 22nd September 2000

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ONLINE: NZ Post enters lolly scramble
Loss-making New Zealand Post is part of a consortium picked as frontrunners to win the government's $3 billion-a-year supply tender - one of the government's biggest ever contracts.

The "mother of all e-projects," to be launched in the first quarter of next year, is at the centre of a scrap between the country's biggest technology companies.

Listed Advantage Group and its shareholder Qixel's stumbling SupplyNet site, backed by the former Government Supplies Board, is no longer picked as a sure bet to win the project.

Instead, a NZ Post-Oracle alliance is in the running as well as a bid from Andersen Consulting with Ariba, both of which have links with IBM.

Scores of other companies, including Christchurch-based Jade, SAP and esolutions are also planning to pitch.

Auckland-based e://volution is already in trials with three government departments.

Part of the government's e-commerce initiative will be to push all government purchases through the online portal, or marketplace, which the winning bidder will set up and run.

For whoever wins, it will mean huge dollars upfront - the government has already set aside up to $16 million over the next four years - as well as a likely equity stake and percentages of the $3-6 billion of purchases potentially processed through the site a year.

The exact model of what will be asked for, and whether it will be compulsory for all departments to use it to order their supplies, will not be known until the government unveils its plans by the June 30 deadline.

It was thought SupplyNet would, by its background and by default, win.

"But that is definitely not a given," one industry player said.

SupplyNet missed its August launch date.

Meanwhile NZ Post spokesman Simon Taylor confirmed the SOE was looking at online marketplaces and intended "to play a major role in online supply chains."

NZ Post has the advantage of running the country's nationwide delivery network. Its wish to turn to e-business, which has included an investment in e-commerce company Infolink Group, coincides with a fall in its staple income from letter delivery. NZ Post reported a loss of $3.8 million for the three months to June 30.

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