Qixel still in, insist SupplyNet partners

Public sector marketplace SupplyNet and its two Eric Watson-backed shareholders vigorously deny investor Qixel will pull out of its SupplyNet involvement, despite persistent market speculation.

Public sector marketplace SupplyNet and its two Eric Watson-backed shareholders vigorously deny investor Qixel will pull out of its SupplyNet involvement, despite persistent market speculation.

SupplyNet's acting chief executive, Carlos Martinez, says SupplyNet is running to plan, will go live with customers early next year and is to run a $2 million tender for services for one of its customers before the end of the month.

Qixel Capital Group, owned by Watson’s main investment vehicle Cullen Investments, is a 30% shareholder in SupplyNet and was said to be unhappy with SupplyNet’s slow progress.

The speculation came as Watson backs away from risky e-commerce ventures, reshuffling his investments in e-tailer Flying Pig. Pacific Retail Group has bought Advantage Group and Blue Star Consumer Retailing’s shares in Flying Pig’s holding company Orion Ventures, and has gained a 10% shareholding in Flying Pig’s new owner, publishing group IT Media.

The e-tailer’s sale comes a month after Watson showed his confidence in more established telcommunication and technology companies by upping his stakes in former Blue Star Business Solutions companies including gen-i, the renamed Wang, to 100%.

The speculation also follows Advantage Group’s stated policy earlier this year that it would back away from taking minority-owned investments in order to concentrate on building its own e-services business, a policy which culminated in its exit from Flying Pig.

Advantage is the other minority shareholder in SupplyNet with a 20% holding. Qixel Asia Pacific, Qixel’s local arm, owns a 46% chunk of Advantage shares.

But Martinez denies the speculation.

“There is no substance to that,” he says.

Martinez says SupplyNet is not looking for other investors.

“I’m busy getting the business out to customers,” he says.

Qixel chief executive Greg Cross, also chief executive of Advantage Group, strongly rejected the claims.

“We are not looking at exiting; there is no truth to that,” Cross says.

“It is still a business that we believe there is a lot of opportunity in – it is a fast moving business."

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