Blue Star Group looks closer to finalising a broader technology group after recent announcements by subsidiary Wang coincided with strategic staff appointments.
Wang's announcement last week of a 24% increase in revenue to $118 million for its 1999 fiscal year, ended April, coincides with appointments that lend weight to the likelihood that Blue Star is close to finalising a broader technology group - probably based on a buy-back from US owner US Office Products.
USOP has indicated that it is retrenching to its core business and it's been thought for some time that Blue Star boss Eric Watson may elect to receive the final payment for his sale of Blue Star to USOP by way of a buy-back, forming a larger technology group which, in turn, could be the subject of a management buyout.
Recent internal changes within the group - particularly focusing on Wang and Ubix - add fuel to this scenario. Peter Dickinson, who joined Wang just two months ago as northern region client marketing general manager, has been appointed general manager of client marketing in a national role. Kelson Holmes, who was Wang's general manager client marketing for the southern region, has joined Blue Star and been seconded on assignment to Ubix, whose managing director, Steve Rieger, recently resigned.
There's a very noticeable absence in Wang's results announcement: a replacement for Doug Wilson, who retired on April 30.
The company's comments on its results are all in the name of Nigel Little, general manager of financial operations. Little says profit was maintained ahead of budget while staff numbers increased from 349 to 428 people in six offices nationwide.
More than 60% of Wang's revenue came from just 12 large clients, suggesting that its strategy of concentrating on its major clients has been successful. Little says the company has also built up its offshore services business through international service and support partnerships. This was accompanied by a "top-to-bottom" re-engineering of the technology supporting the Wang services division. A sophisticated online and on-site service is promised as a result.
Wang expects growth ahead of the market to continue through 2000, Little says, largely due to the company's determinedly client-focused strategy, investments made in new service capabilities and in the disciplined replication of "conceptual products" such as central LAN management.
With the pending sale of former US parent company Wang Global Services to a Dutch service provider, Wang New Zealand was likely to be the last vestige of the Wang name.
If the buy-back scenario plays out, it's entirely possible that a rebranding exercise will take place and the once-venerable Wang name will vanish forever.