Asian company buys into NZ timber e-marketplace

Timber e-marketplace Lignus is set to expand into Asia, thanks to a partnership signed last week with Singaporean e-commerce company Unifize.

Timber e-marketplace Lignus is set to expand into Asia, thanks to a partnership signed last week with Singaporean e-commerce company Unifize.

The deal involves Unifize taking a 20% stake in privately held Lignus and offering Lignus the services of its “group companies” such as online cataloguing system eCatalogue and call centre service XiC.

As well as the technical benefits, the contacts and connections of Unifize’s owners, the billionaire Philippine Chinese Tan family, will provide business benefits, Lignus co-founder John McVicar says.

“The Tan family have large business holdings in Asia and will provide some assistance to Lignus in penetrating the Asian market.”

Unifize has a partnership with Oracle, which will also be useful, McVicar says.

The deal, which took several months to arrange, was brokered through PricewaterhouseCoopers, another partner of Unifize.

Under the deal, Unifize chairman Lucio Tan and vice-chairman Wee Ah Kee will join the Lignus board.

McVicar says Lignus will remain New Zealand-based and majority owned by the McVicar family in the immediate future.

Lignus went live in October. It is run on Jade software and protected by 128-bit encryption. Its revenue comes from a 1% transaction fee charge to sellers and McVicar says the average transaction value is just under $10,000.

More than 200 members from 20 countries do business through Lignus. McVicar expects Lignus to be profitable by the second quarter of next year.

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