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Imago gets six of the best

THE directors of multimedia developer Imago have received at least six offers from parties interested in buying the business.

But because the firm is making no comment on a sale, except to confirm that bids are being sought, it is unclear exactly what the bids are for – either the business as a going concern, or some or all of its assets, which include a 40 per cent stake in technology incubator Entrepreneurs in Residence.

Imago’s board recently called in an external consultant, Andrew Parkinson, to seek bids for the company. Mr Parkinson was unable to comment on the bidding process for “fear of jeopardising what would be a commercially sensitive deal”, though he hoped a sale would be announced soon.

Although neither Mr Parkinson nor Imago chairman James Milner-Yates would discuss why the company was for sale, industry sources have suggested it is because federal funding of the company’s activities ceases at the end of this year. Since its inception in 1995, Imago has received $1.375 million each year in federal funding on top of any revenue it attracts from its business activities.

The Federal Government established Imago in 1995 as part of its Co-operative Multimedia Centre program. Six CMCs, including Imago, were set up in the mainland capital cities and given initial funding of $1.375 million per year for three years.

After a review of the CMC program in 1998, that funding was extended to this year.

The CMC program followed the model of the successful Co-operative Research Centre program, which was initiated in 1990. CMCs and CRCs are incorporated bodies formed by consortia of organisations drawn from the education sectors, industry and the arts/cultural communities. Their role is to promote the development of collaborative links between education and training, business and creative communities.

Imago has a number of shareholders in WA, among which Murdoch, Curtin and Edith Cowan Universities have the biggest stakes. Between them the universities hold about 4,500 of the 10,000 Imago-issued shares. Other prominent corporate shareholders include Q Multimedium and Spherion Technology.

-Hugh Halloran

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