Jade turns Linc into foreign loot

Jade Software's association with a 24-year-old mainframe language has helped it secure a multimillion-pound deal with the sixth largest building society in the UK.

Jade Software’s association with a 24-year-old mainframe language has helped it secure a multimillion-pound deal with the sixth largest building society in the UK.

Skipton Building Society, which has 80 branches nationwide, will base all its future IT on the Jade development platform and database after fully converting from Linc-based systems.

Jade founder Gil Simpson developed Linc, a Unisys mainframe language, with colleague Peter Hoskins in 1978. Unisys, which bought Linc from the developers in 1980, still supports about 3500 Linc systems worldwide.

Over the past three years Christchurch-based Jade has provided Skipton with customised mortgage, investment and customer relationship management applications.

It is also developing a new branch automation system for the society’s branches. But the first major project is a multimillion-pound transition from its Linc mainframe system to Jade, with the aim of saving on ongoing operating costs and providing a web-enabled IT platform.

Jade chairman Ruth Richardson says Skipton is the most high profile Linc to Jade conversion so far but it won’t be the last. The company plans to use its Linc associations throughout the world, including the US.

Last year the company raised $12.2 million, partly through a capital notes issue to New Zealand-based private equity firm i-cap and US-based Roger Bhole.

Bhole, who is based in Atlanta, which has a large Linc user community, is keen for Jade to develop a fully fledged distribution network in the US.

Jade, which aims to list on the New Zealand Stock Exchange either in the fourth calendar quarter this year or the first next year, is following an aggressive expansion plan. Last week the company officially changed its name from Aoraki to Jade Software in preparation for the listing.

Richardson says apart from the fact that the company is now wholly based on the Jade platform, it wants to send a clear signal to its customers and the investment market.

“Now we’re totally wearing Jade colours.”

Richardson says in addition to Skipton Jade has built an electronic customer ordering system for the English, Welsh and Scottish Railways (EWS), the UK’s largest rail freight company, and is starting to penetrate the UK health market.

Last week Jade set up governance boards for the UK and Australian operations, both of which are chaired by Jade founder Sir Gil Simpson.

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