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Qixel has Advantage as listing plans progress

By Aimee McClinchy

Friday 14th April 2000

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Plans for the listing of a group of technology stocks linked to investor Eric Watson are taking shape with the unveiling of Nasdaq-listing plans for the renamed ePac investment company.

Epac, now called Qixel Capital Group, was formed late last year as a holding company for the majority parcel of Advantage shares held by Mr Watson, Evan Christian and Nick Gordon.

While Advantage remains its flagship asset, Qixel has been collecting other Watson-owned assets. It was known Mr Watson was planning to bundle a group of technology companies into an offshore listing (NBR, March 24) but until now details were unclear.

Blue Star Business Solutions operations Cogent and Hart Candy are to be consolidated into a single entity.

Meanwhile, Advantage Group is chasing an Australian Stock Exchange listing. Chief executive Greg Cross has stepped back from his day-to-day role to concentrate on Advantage's strategic plans and has also been appointed chief executive of Qixel.

Mr Cross was unable to comment on potential Qixel investors or acquisitions but said Qixel would look to acquire and develop holdings in Asian b2b and e-commerce businesses.

He said he doubted any more local businesses would be placed in the Qixel fold.

"Primarily, because we have substantial holdings in New Zealand, we've got it covered and our focus is likely to be growing offshore."

Qixel, branded as a holding company, has 46% of Advantage shares - although Mr Watson has previously indicated Qixel may seek to increase its shareholding.

In the past few weeks Qixel has quietly acquired Mr Watson's vehicle Cullen Investment's 60% shareholding in Wang and Auldhouse Computer Training. Wang and Auldhouse were part of Blue Star Business Solutions.

Qixel also had links to Flying Pig, Venice and eBustech - operations or divisions of the three Qixel-owned companies, and seven of its businesses earned $51 million in revenues last year.

Advantage is preparing for an ASX listing and has hired an Australian manager.

Mr Cross said Qixel's moves would not affect that goal.

But Advantage would make a couple of Australian acquisitions before the listing took place.

Advantage had hired new management staff and was developing and investing in wireless, international payments and componentry business units that would have global applications, Mr Cross said.

"We have a firm view Advantage is, compared with international stocks, well undervalued," Mr Cross said.

Advantage was looking to invest its profits back into the business for revenue growth, he said.

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