Engineer pares back operations

LISTED Western Australian auto parts company Advanced Engine Components, once linked to failed telco New Tel and its boss Peter Malone, has concluded the sale of two of its non-core assets and is now concentrating on its natural gas technologies.

The company announced that it had sold off the Sprintex supercharger business to Australian Automotive Components, a company linked to its former managing director Anthony Hamilton on October 20.

The Sprintex sale has netted the company about $250,000.

The Sprintex superchargers were essentially after-market performance add-ons, mostly for V8 engines.

AEC had been working on the 300+, a two-door version of the Ford Falcon that used its Sprintex supercharger, however that plan stalled.

With Mr Hamilton running Sprintex the 300+ is back on track and a prototype is out doing the rounds.

In July it announced that it had sold off its Bullet Supercar division.

That sale to Queensland-based private company Bullet Performance Products brought in about $490,000.

Bullet Performance Products was set up to create the Bullet Supercar – essentially a roadster that looked like a Mazda MX-5 but with a Lexus V8 rammed in the front end with a Sprintex supercharger to boost its output even further.

Both the Sprintex superchargers and the Bullet businesses, while astute additions to the company, were seen to be interfering with its more profitable Transcom Natural Gas Vehicle Systems business.

The company has a contract with the WA Government, Daimler Chrysler and the Australian Greenhouse Office to supply 22 buses using its NGVS technology. The total contract is worth $5.09 million.

It also has a $12 million, three-and-a-half-year contract to supply natural gas engine systems to supply its NGVS to the French Irisbus consortium.

Irisbus is Europe’s second largest manufacturer of public transport vehicles.

The company’s patented NGVS has an electronic control unit that monitors and manages engine performance that helps reduce fuel consumption and limit emissions.

The company’s troubles with the failed New Tel seem to be behind it.

When AEC listed in February 2000 Mr Malone was its chairman. Not long after that New Tel held 88.89 per cent of its issued capital.

New Tel sold its stake in AEC on August 20 2002. By that stage it held 67.35 per cent.

Mr Malone resigned as the company’s chairman on December 16 2002.

With his resignation Antony Middleton took the chairman’s seat and Mr Hamilton, who was appointed to the board in March 2002 became managing director.

Mr Hamilton resigned from the board in May.

With New Tel out of the picture, Hong Kong-based 698 Capital International launched a takeover bid for AEC in June.

After securing 77.81 per cent of  AEC it decided not to proceed with compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares.

However, it appointed, Dr C Daniel Wu as chairman and Arthur Wang, Thomas Liu and William Lee as directors.

Mr Middleton remained on the board as a director.

As for Mr Hamilton, he re-emerged on the scene with the purchase of Sprintex.

According to Australian Securities and Investments Commission records, Australian Automotive Components has Mr Hamilton and Hong Kong-based Steven James Apedaile as its directors.
Chartered Accountant John Palermo, whose office is one floor above the Oxford Street address of AAC is listed as the company secretary.
Mr Hamilton said AAC was backed by a consortium of European, South East Asian and Australian investors.
"We’re working on some contracts for two automotive manufacturers," he said.
Mr Hamilton said the 300+ was one of those projects.
AEC’s shares have been trading at about 4 cents to 5 cents for the past week.


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