CHROME loses some lustre

THE effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the already weak market have been blamed for CHROME Global Group’s decision to go into administration last week.

CHROME slipped into voluntary administration just days before it was to acquire Professional Public Relations in a deal worth $600,000. Shares were suspended on Tuesday after the e-business group announced a “significant” slump in sales revenues.

CHROME chairman Mick Bolto said the company’s revenue slump was first realised on Monday. He said the terrorist attacks in the US had caused a large amount of nervousness in the market.

“I suppose a lot of businesses are feeling the same thing, but it just happened at the worst possible moment for us,” Mr Bolto said.

“We had the money for the acquisition sitting there, ready to go, and I guess September 11 has just knocked everybody for six.

“It was a weakish market already, but we were surviving, we were doing okay and then September 11 comes along and everybody sits on their hands for a little while and delays committing to projects.

“The clients don’t go away, they’re just waiting to see what happens, which doesn’t do us much good.”

CHROME was successful in raising $800,000 to purchase PPR, with the sale to be completed last week.

The acquisition was to combine CHROME expertise in IT solutions with PPR’s offline public relations experience.

PPR relocated to CHROME’s Adelaide Terrace office after the planned acquisition was announced in June. However, PPR currently remains independent of the e-business firm.

CHROME’s move to appoint an administrator is a set back for the IT and PR industries. In June, CHROME and PPR touted the acquisition was necessary for survival in the new millennium. PPR managing director Paul Niardone said it was vital communicat

ions companies could offer both on and offline services to clients.

While Mr Niardone said while he was disappointed by the news of voluntary administration, he indicated negotiations would be ongoing with the administrator to complete the transaction.

“It hasn’t put us off the idea of delivering online communications along with traditional communication services for our clients,” he said. “So we will be continuing that.”

Mr Niardone said if CHROME did close its doors, PPR would look at taking on clients, staff and equipment from the company.

The e-business firm began life as an application service provider.

It made headlines early last year when it secured an ASP partnership with Oracle, but dumped the operation in the wake of the tech wreck. CHROME then refocused on e-business solutions and premium web site development.

Ernst and Young administrator Brian McMaster was optimistic CHROME could trade out of its difficulties but that it was vital additional capital was secured.

Mr McMaster said CHROME was a “good shell” and was confident of attracting capital.

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