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Watson's Excell Corp bounces back in style

By Deborah Hill Cone

Friday 17th October 2003

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Restructured maintenance company Excell Corporation yesterday boasted it had dug itself out of its debt hole of two years ago and was reporting a doubled profit for the year to September.

The South Auckland-based company may be entitled to skite a bit, since the result represents a $50 million turnaround since it faced a cash crisis two years ago following the collapse of 50% shareholder Hartner Group.

At that time a $30 million funding package had fallen through and the company was struggling to assimilate a string of acquisitions including a major expansion in Australia.

The company had been in a high-growth phase but ran into cash problems with some "scattergun" expansion initiatives.

Excell is now wholly owned by Vonelle Holdings, whose sole shareholder is Maintenance Limited, which is personally owned by Kensington, London-based investor Eric Watson.

Being privately owned, Excell is not obliged to release its figures but chief executive David Geor said the company turned over $130 million in the year to September and doubled its profit from the 2002 year.

Mr Geor, who joined the company in 2001 when it was "haemorrhaging cash," confirmed Mr Watson had put in more than $37.5 million as a cash injection as part of the restructuring, and the company now in a comfortable position with a strategy of focussing on its core business.

"I know it sounds rather boring but it has just been a bit of back to basics management [such as] sensible management of cash," Mr Geor said.

"It's not rocket science."

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