A HANDFUL of well-known deal makers, including Farooq Khan, Reg Gillard and Tony Trevisan, cropped up with some regularity in WA Business News’ review of serial name changers.
The three men have very different styles and strategies but they have all identified business opportunities amidst WA’s changing company scene.
Mr Khan has acquired a reputation as a latter-day corporate raider, with his targets including several companies that have gone through multiple name changes.
He has controlling stakes in Central Exchange, Altera Capital, Sofcom, Queste Communications and Fast Scout and Sydney-based fund manager Bentley Equities.
His targets almost invariably have substantial cash reserves and he professes to be pursuing a strategy of aggregation so the combined companies will have ‘critical mass’.
Central Exchange, formerly known as Central Bore Nickel NL and Triarc Corporation, among other names, recently hit pay dirt when Minara Resources paid it $19 million to settle a complicated deal negotiated by Minara’s former management.
Altera Capital, formerly known as BigShop.com.au, gained instant fame when it listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on the day of the 2000 ‘tech wreck’.
Altera has been suspended from the ASX since June 2003.
Mr Gillard has chaired many companies over the years, primarily in the mining industry, but like many mining entrepreneurs, he has dabbled in technology stocks.
He currently chairs Balcatta-based Moto Goldmines, a company that has come full circle.
It is now focused on a gold project in the Congo, a far cry from its technology investments under the name Equs.
These investments included the HOTS online trading system and the I-C-IP investment fund, which in turn invested in medical technology.
Mr Gillard, described by Equs as a key member of the I-C-IP team, joined the company in early 2000 when it invested in I-C-IP.
Mr Gillard is also chairman of Afminex, which is currently focused on an oil project.
In past lives, Afminex was an active player in tech stocks, when it was known as Shield Communications and Shield Equities.
A third chairman position held by Mr Gillard is Aspen Group, which has established itself as a substantial property investor.
Things were very different five years ago, when the company was known as Boss Resources and its main focus was a gold project in Nicaragua.
In September 1999 the company, under different management, caught dot.com fever and bought national online business directory aussie.com.au
Two years later its focus shifted again, when it planned to invest in an extraordinary $20 million straight-line racetrack in South Australia’s Riverland district.
The track would have had no spectators and was designed for online betting, but never came to pass because Aussie Online – which planned to change its name to Sports Vision Entertainment – and other investors were unable to raise sufficient funds.
The company then slid into administration before being revived in its current guise.
Its assets include the Septimus Roe Square office building in the CBD, the Alcoa head office in Booragoon and the Elders Woolstores in Fremantle.
Mr Gillard is also chairman of Lafayette Mining, which is developing a mining project in The Philippines.
Tony Trevisan’s Transcontinental Group was a driving force behind two companies that made ill-fated moves from mining into technology.
Hunter Exploration turned into Aucxis, which promoted an online auction system, but is now known as Aurex Consolidated, recently completing a major restructuring, including a move back into mineral exploration and a board restructure that led to the departure of Mr Trevisan’s son, Simon.
Mr Trevisan second tech venture was based around Capricorn Resources, which became B2B.Net Technology and is now Australian Healthcare Technology.
Mr Trevisan is lightening his stake, announcing earlier this month he had reduced his shareholding in the company.
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