Advantage holding company prepared for Nasdaq float

Advantage Group and elements of Blue Star Solutions are being consolidated under an Internet holding company preparative to a probable listing on the Nasdaq.

Advantage Group and elements of Blue Star Solutions are being consolidated under an Internet holding company preparative to a probable listing on the Nasdaq.

Qixel Capital Group is the name of the holding company, which has 46% of Advantage shares and the 60% holding of Eric Watson's Cullen investments in Wang and Auldhouse. Qixel, formerly called ePac, was launched last November as a holding vehicle for the shares in Advantage held by Watson, Evan Christian and Nick Gordon.

Advantage CEO Greg Cross, who is currently in the US, is CEO of Qixel. Other managers in the group, such as Wang general manager Garth Biggs, report to him.

Qixel is seeking to raise capital in the US to invest in business-to-business e-commerce companies in Asia.

It hasn't been stated whether Qixel would also buy out the remaining 40% stake US Office Products holds in Blue Star Solutions. This action would prevent USOP becoming a beneficiary of the IPO.

On its newly launched Web site, Qixel.com, the company says it has built a wide network of partner companies in Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South

Africa, America (Florida) and the UK. Partner companies fall into three groups:

e-Web

• Advantage Web Services - pro providing integrated e-business strategy and technology services to business.

• Wang Internet Integration - providing professional services and Internet infrastructure management.

• Auldhouse Internet Training - supplying computer applications, systems and Internet training in Australasia.

e-Tech

• e4Retail - a vertical netmarket delivering e-commerce solutions to three major oil companies and 4500 gas stations throughout Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, South Africa and South America.

• International Payment - provides comprehensive electronic payment and transaction solutions throughout Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

e-Market

• Flying Pig - an Australian and New Zealand e-tailer of books, videos and software.

• Venice - a joint-venture partnership incorporating several bricks and mortar firms, a Qixel Web Services company and a major US B2B netmarket company that will launch a small to medium business ("SMB") trading exchange, in Australia and New Zealand initially , in Q2 of 2000.

• eBustech - a joint venture partnership incorporating several bricks and mortar firms and a Qixel Web Service company that provides an online office equipment. procurement service.

Advantage and Wang director Anthony Howard says Qixel is an investment company rather than an operating company. He says the Cogent and Hart Candy components of Blue Star solutions are likely to be consolidated in telecommunications interests. Plans for Ubix are less clear. Howard says only that Ubix has been cleaned up and "we're looking for opportunities to grow". The board of Qixel comprises Maurice Kidd (chairman), Christian and Cross. The Web site says Qixel's portfolio of seven B2B e-commerce properties generated over $51 million in e-Commerce revenues last year.

"We have built strong local domain expertise and presence in the Asia-Pacific region [and] we have forged strong relationships with leading US B2B companies. Our strategy is to ëglobalise' e-technologies and marketing strategies that are already proven in the US (the low risk/faster to market benefits again). In essence, the strategy comprises three core components:

• "We invest only in blue chip Web application development companies with a solid track record, established and secure markets, and a wealth of skill and experience in their specialist area;

• "We only select e-tech technologies that have or are likely to have a clearly defined market, minimal competition, and the clear prospect of generating significant returns, and;

• "We build e-market companies based on proven US B2B operations, leveraging the skills of our local Web service companies and integrating with key bricks and mortar domain partners."

Qixel says it will consider an IPO on the Nasdaq and intends to offer the other shareholders in Advantage Group the opportunity to participate.

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