No UXC buyout for now


Diversified Australian IT services group UXC has decided to continue as an independent company for now, after deciding not to accept offers from parts or the whole of its business from similar companies and private equity firms.

For the past few months the company has been in a period of due diligence as part of a strategic review into its operations initiated in February. The review came about not as a result of poor performance in UXC’s IT businesses, but as a result of poor performance in the environmental solutions arm of its Field Solutions Group, which provides services to utilities and government.

“As part of this review, discussions and negotiations have taken place with many parties to purchase all or a part of UXC,” the company said in a statement this morning, noting offers had come from two private equity firms for the whole of UXC, for its IT group from three trade buyers — international and domestic, just its Business Solutions Group from a trade buyer, and also individual business units, including the Field Solutions Group

UXC is still continuing discussions with two interested parties, but the company said it believed divestment of some of its assets may not realise “the underlying value and potential” in the company. It currently values its IT assets with a value higher than $300 million, and its Field Solutions Group with a value approaching $70 million.

In particular, it will look at separating its IT assets from its environmental assets through a demerger process — the benefits of which it said were compelling.

In the meantime, UXC will continue to trade as an independent company, and will appoint a series of executives to management positions to strengthen its internal governance, the first of which will be UXC Business Solutions Group CEO Cris Nicolli to the role of managing director of UXC as a whole.

UXC executive chairman Geoff Lord — the company’s largest shareholder — will continue with the company as chairman, but will no longer have executive duties. He will have a focus on “strategic initiatives” in this new role.

“Further appointments are being pursued in both the Business Solutions Group and Field Solutions Group, to add further depth to management and support the new managing director,” the company said.

UXC has traditionally had a federated model, whereby where each of its specialised business units, for example Integ, which focuses on unified communications, or Oxygen, which forces on SAP-based solutions — have historically operated independently. It is not yet clear to what extent the planned appointments will affect this model.

Image credit: Steve Ford Elliott, royalty free