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Watson charts Commsoft for listing

Friday 25th February 2000

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By Nicholas Bryant

Eric Watson
Sharemarket trendsetter Eric Watson looks set to give telephony software company Commsoft a back-door listing to the Australian Stock Exchange through dried-up aquarium Aquaria 21.

The listing would be as part of Strathmore Group but would use funds from the cashed-up shell of the ex-aquarium owner.

Minority shareholders anxious for information on Aquaria 21's future believe Mr Watson has poised the shell's future for e-commerce.

He may not need to consult minority shareholders.

Mr Watson holds 10% of Aquaria 21 with an option to buy 17.5% more, while his business associates John Sorenson and Ken Wikely own 25% between them.

The trio's possible collective shareholding of 52.5% would give them the ability to dictate future direction without minority shareholder approval, especially if other major shareholders Craig Heatley and Peter Masfen vote with them.

Meanwhile independent broker Sandy Ellis, formerly of DF Mainland, has bought three parcels of three million, five million and 10 million Aquaria 21 shares over January and February.

One broker said as Aquaria 21 was flush with cash for a Commsoft listing the placings looked to be all about getting "friends on side" for surety of direction.

Minority shareholders have been left with no news of Aquaria's future since they were told three weeks ago it was divesting all its assets to Australia's Bliss Corporation.

With that deal went the rights to the name Aquaria 21, to be relinquished at a special meeting on March 10.

Since the announcement there has been heavy trading of Aquaria shares suggesting the share price will soar with the company's new direction.

Commsoft, considered by many a future highflier, is 21.6% owned by Strathmore Group of which Mr Watson holds 10.6%.

It has been compared to success story Telemedia, a local company which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange last October. Commsoft announced two weeks ago it intends listing on the Australian Stock Exchange within six months and in preparation it has been advertising for key positions.

But six months is considered an optimistic goal, especially on the Australian exchange, unless a back-door listing was achieved.

Commsoft has been valued at $20 million, putting it well within the Aquaria shell's budget.

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