A DOUBLE US acquisition by Australian telecommunications company Pivotel has dialled up business into North America, Latin America and Europe for the group. 

Australia’s fourth largest mobile carrier, Pivotel this week acquired two US-based mobile satellite solution businesses, MVS USA Inc. and Explorer Satellite Communications Inc., through its US based subsidiary Pivotel America Inc. This has the immediate effect of significantly increasing Pivotel’s scale in North America and opening new markets in Latin America and Europe.

The double acquisition is expected to see Pivotel’s annual revenue jump to more than US$85 million (A$120m) in 2019/20.

Pivotel has now acquired four international companies within two years with the two new businesses joining North American maritime solutions provider Global Marine Networks LLC, acquired in 2017, and Wellington, NZ based mobile satellite communications provider Wright Satellite Connections Limited, acquired in 2018.

Pivotel chief executive officer Peter Bolger said he was motivated to continue the search for further Pivotel acquisitions that bring in essentials skill sets and capabilities, access to new markets and an expanded pool of customers. 

“Through acquisitions such as these we are able to access new technology capabilities as well as new markets,” Mr Bolger said.

“In the telecommunications business, scale is always important. We expect to achieve synergies at the network level which will drive improved margins across our now expanded customer base and increase the opportunity to sell our existing solutions to new customers and new markets.

“We have historically invested up to 10 percent of revenue on R&D, developing new and better solutions that simplify the use of satellite communications, improve its affordability and deliver the effective outcomes our customers are seeking,” he said. “By having access to more markets and a larger customer base we can get better returns on our R&D investments.”

Pivotel America Inc. president Robert Sakker saw the acquisitions as highly complementary to Pivotel’s existing operations and to each other, important factors in Pivotel’s broader growth strategy.
“With a significant base of retail customers across the Americas, a strong network of reseller partners around the world, and a talented team of professionals, MVS not only provides an immediate revenue lift but also provides enormous potential to accelerate our organic growth,” Mr Sakker said.

“In addition, the MVS FLEXX service management platform is world class and will further enhance Pivotel’s existing service management capabilities.

“Explorer Satellite Communications has a unique and strong presence in the American and international adventure market, with an established customer base and sales channel. Explorer has had amazing sales success despite its relatively small size, and we think they will do great things with the resources of Pivotel behind them and access to a stronger portfolio of products and services.”

The acquisitions also open up new markets in Latin America and Europe, truly globalising the company to now represent over 105,000 current services spread across its Australian, New Zealand, Indonesian, Americas and European operations.

The catalyst for the deal according to Deborah Deffaa, CEO of MVS USA, was Pivotel’s innovation led, customer first strategy to running its business.

“Pivotel is known for its innovative approach to service delivery and its investment in network and application services to improve the customer experience,” Ms Deffaa said. “The allure of connecting our North American, Latin American and European network to Pivotel’s Asia-Pac network is irresistible.

“We will literally span the globe with a satellite data super-highway that allows us to bring our intelligent solutions to customers everywhere,” she said.

“There is no doubt that joining forces with Pivotel will strengthen, heighten and broaden our capabilities as a business. Their impressive history, awards and innovative thinking is well matched with our premium partnerships and personalised approach to communication solutions.”

Explorer Satellite’s principal Andy Cool reflected that “Pivotel America Inc. and Explorer Satellite are a great fit, and we are very excited to be a part of a growing and innovative organisation”.

Today, Pivotel Group has more than 250 dealers and partners across its Asia-Pacific and Americas operations and employs more than 125 staff spanning Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Europe and Indonesia.

Mr Bolger said the group’s goal was to achieve further strong revenue growth over the coming years via focused organic growth within existing operations and through further acquisitions.

www.pivotel.com.au

www.mvsusa.com

 www.explorersatellite.com

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RECOGNISED as a world leader in quality of life services, Sodexo is making waves in sustainability at its Brisbane headquarters. Sodexo has reduced mains water usage for non-drinkable purposes by 50 percent by substituting it with rainwater harvested on site.

The facilities management company, which has been conducting improvements of its Eight Mile Plains office since 2015, has captured 584,828 litres of rainwater since the project began.

The rainwater is now being used 50 percent of the time for non-drinkable purposes, such as for outdoor taps, ponds and irrigation, instead of relying fully on Queensland’s water supply.

Sodexo director od on-site services, Keith Weston said the direction was a win for the environment, while also saving the company on water costs.

“The project aligns with Sodexo’s goal of being more sustainable across the business, including reducing waste and lessening pressure on the environment,” Mr Weston said. 

“Population growth and decreased rainfall continues to put pressure on limited State Government water supplies. Smart buildings such as Sodexo’s Brisbane office assists in reducing this demand, saving water for others in the community.”

BUILDING RESILIENCE

Along with preserving water, Mr Weston said the direction helped the business be resilient.

“Every now and then there can be disruptions to main water supplies, which in the past would result in complete loss of water supply to buildings in our business park,” he said. “Having our own water systems in place allows us to continue to be operational, no matter what happens.”

Sodexo has been able to achieve these results by installing a dual feed water system which separates potable and non-potable plumbing.

Rainwater is harvested from the Sodexo roof to an inground 20,000 litre rainwater tank. Floats within the tank talk with a RainPro controller and when a high water level is detected the controller selects water usage from the rain tanks. When the water level is detected as low, the controller automatically switches the supply to come from the street water mains.

Sodexo plans to continue its focus on saving water at the site.

“We’ve had discussions with our landlord and we believe we can get to 100 percent rainwater usage for our non-potable purposes if we install additional rainwater tanks,” Mr Weston said.

The project aligns with Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 corporate responsibility roadmap, with one focus being on waste.

Sodexo in Australia employs a diverse workforce of more than 5,000 employees delivering a unique array of over 100 integrated services lines including catering, facilities management, concierge services, security, asset maintenance and hospitality services to the corporate, healthcare, education, government, energy and resources sectors. The company was founded in Marseille, France, in 1966 by Pierre Bellon and has since developed as a global leader in services that improve ‘quality of life’ in over 72 countries.

https://au.sodexo.com

www.sodexo.com

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By Dan Hadley >>

ADELAIDE restaurant goers were disappointed to discover recently that one of Australia’s most iconic steakhouse chains, Hog’s Breath, had closed its South Australian doors and that the SA division had gone into administration

It follows an early May announcement by Hog’s Breath Cafe management that it would close their Coolangatta restaurant on the Gold Coast, after being forced into administration recently.

Furthermore, these closures follow just weeks after the Indooroopilly Queensland restaurant closed its doors. Restaurant goers nationwide have been left wondering if their favorite Hog’s Breath outlet is next.

The buzz on social media has seen a number of very upset Hog’s Breath fans left disappointed and asking ‘why?’

Indeed, these closures also mean the loss of employment for a number of staff across the country, some having worked for Hog’s Breath for years. 

Previously known as ‘Hog’s Breath Café’ and ‘Hog’s Breath Saloon’, the iconic steakhouse chain started in 1989 in Airlie Beach Queensland with the first outlet opened by Don Algie. Only a year later a second store opened in Mooloolaba.

Later outlets began to open in Cairns, Townsville and Darwin. As the company grew, most states in Australia began to enjoy the signature 18-hour slow cooked prime rib and unmistakable steaks.  By 2011 the Hog’s Breath Company expanded overseas and opened 75 Hog’s Breath Cafes over a 20 year span, which includes Thailand and Singapore.

So how does a household name restaurant chain like this begin to fall? 

Reports through social media from ex staff members and suppliers point towards poor fiscal management.

Additionally, franchise chains can sometimes suffer from a disconnect between franchise management as well as support and the front-of-line franchise outlet serving the public.

These models are designed to facilitate strong growth, uniformity in product and brand as well as provide a combined buying power for the individual franchise owner. Where disparities and efficiencies are lost, individual chains can collapse and this may have a domino effect on other chains, particularly where finance has not been managed properly.

But there is a chance the company may be able to breathe life back into this Hog, as the company has been working with creditors in order to hold on to existing stores and, hopefully, reopen those lost.

Recently, the company announced the return of its Glenelg store in South Australia.

A spokesman for liquidators Heard Phillips indicated that the franchisor and landlords of the two properties were in conversation “in the hope that (both restaurants) will open again in the near future,” according to a report in the Advertiser newspaper.

Other recent announcements indicated that the company was keen to hire as many previously employed staff as possible and this might return hope to those workers who had been left without work.

This announcement also provides a small glimmer hope to Hog’s Breath lifetime VIP members, known as Hog Squad members, who have previously paid a fee for a lifetime membership with the chain that allows ongoing lifetime discounts and benefits nationwide. The definition of ‘lifetime’ now clearly being called into question.

On a personal note, one hopes that this chain can recover and thrive again. Many Australia families will have memories of dinners, birthdays and other celebrations at Hog’s Breath since the late 80s and it would be a shame to see another iconic Australian brand be roasted, slowly or otherwise…

www.jlb.com.au

Dan Hadley, MBA, BComm, IMC is a British-Australian economist and management consultant for JLB  based in Adelaide, South Australia.

 

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By Leon Gettler >>

WITH THE BANKS retreating from finance in the wake of the Royal Commission, investment firm Mayfair 101’s IPO Wealth Fund is now moving into the breach, funding Australian start-ups and businesses – even helping them expand overseas and build their markets.

Much of the money is coming from self-managed superannuation funds and high net worth individuals looking for investment opportunities and somewhere to get a better return on their funds than what the banks are offering. 

“There seems to be a big shift away from the banks at the moment, particularly with a lot of fintech companies coming online, and banks are not recognising this tidal wave of people, particularly younger generation shifting away from the banks,” Mayfair 101 CEO James Mawhinney told Talking Business.

“We thought we would be well-positioned to set something up,”

Mr Mawhinney said the fund had raised just over $40 million. Investors are buying units in a unit trust and Mayfair has investments around the world.

Apart from Australia, Mayfair also has investments in India, the UK, the US, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Israel and Italy.

It is very much in the fintech space – shorthand for financial technologies – and payments related companies.

BRIGHT INNOVATIONS

One of the companies Mayfair 101 has invested in is the Israeli smart city tech company Bright Innovations. Bright approached Mayfair looking to list their company on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

Bright Innovations has a platform that enables a range of applications, operating in a way similar to an app store, which is progressing now to an initial public offering (IPO) on the ASX.

“We have provided them with some pre-IPO financing,” Mr Mawhinney said.

The company has also invested in the Melbourne-based start-up Liven which allows people to use their phones to pay at hundreds of restaurants. Mayfair is helping the company roll out its initial coin offering and is helping the company expand into London.

“We are definitely on a formula that’s working very well,” Mr Mawhinney said.

He said the company was now taking more interest in the real estate space to balance its portfolio,

“We have very much a sweet spot where we work with a finite set of clients,” he said. 

Mr Mawhinney said Mayfair101 had a network of top level executives and former chairmen of major investment banks that it had appointed to boards of its client companies.

“It gives us a good opportunity to work with businesses that want to expand their horizons into overseas markets where we can provide not just access to expertise and contacts but also access to funding.”

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

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AUSTRALIAN doctors are looking to virtual reality (VR) to change health care to better suit modern-day needs, thanks to home-grown startup company, Vantari VR.

Vantari VR is developing cutting edge technology to convert CT, MRI and other medical images into virtual reality, signalling the end of two-dimensional (2D) black and white medical scans.

The Australian-made technology is being tested by NSW doctors who are showing patients their scans using VR headsets, bringing medical imaging to life. The company is also exploring other ways to use this technology, including using virtual reality in surgical planning and to train junior doctors. 

Vantari VR was founded by two doctors, Vijay Paul and Nishanth Krishnananthan, whose combined experience in emergency medicine and surgery inspired them to solve a common problem.

“Health care professionals go through years of training to learn how to read standard medical scans,” Dr Paul said.

“There is no surprise that patients often struggle to decipher what the colourless blurs mean during a short medical appointment. We’ve worked at medical centres and hospitals across Australia, and noticed that this was a common issue at all of them, so we decided to do something about it,” Dr Paul said.

Knee surgery patients at Sydney’s Campbelltown Private Hospital will be some of the first to experience this technology during a six-month trial.

At Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Vantari VR is being piloted for procedural training where junior doctors and trainees are able to learn from immersive simulations hosted on a sophisticated VR platform.

Vantari VR is also being tested at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where surgeons are turning traditional scans into virtual reality and using VR headsets to plan surgical procedures. According to research by Stamford University in the US, using virtual reality for surgical planning increases accuracy by 10 percent and decreases planning time by 40 percent.

HELPED BY HCF CATALYST

When Vantari VR was in its prototype phase, Dr Paul and Dr Krishnananthan participated in the HCF Catalyst program, an accelerator that helps health care startups and scaleups to develop their ideas into investment-ready businesses in 12 weeks.

The doctors’ program mentors encouraged them to look at different ways health care professionals could use virtual reality in patient care.

“The HCF Catalyst program helped us see the greater potential to use virtual reality to not only educate patients but drive better understanding across the health system,” Dr Krishnananthan said.

“We want to be part of the movement that progresses the Australian health system into today’s modern technological world. It is important that we encourage doctors to use technology that can improve patient outcomes.”

HCF and venture fund Slingshot select businesses that share a vision of making health care affordable, understandable, high quality and patient centric to participate in the yearly accelerator program. Program participants receive mentoring, marketing and infrastructure support.

HCF Catalyst gave both Vantari VR founders education on the business side of running a heath Startup.

“As doctors we had clinical acumen and a good work ethic, but we needed support to learn new business skills,” Dr Paul said. “The HCF Catalyst program taught us how to create a sustainable business model and fundamental professional business skills like sales and pitching.”

HCF chief executive officer Sheena Jack is the driving force behind the health care accelerator program. She believes Vantari VR is a great example of how technology has the power to make health care more understandable and high-quality for patients. 

“We run the HCF Catalyst program to support entrepreneurs like Dr Paul and Dr Krishnananthan, who are using technology to make complex health care processes easier for Australian patients to understand and have potential to improve patient outcomes,” Ms Jack said.

“We think there is significant opportunity for the health care system to be using more advanced technology, like virtual reality, as research continues to show that it can benefit Australian patients.”

hcfcatalyst.slingshotters.com

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AUSTRALIAN firm Greyscan has developed a unique device capable of rapidly detecting homemade explosives – and it is being developed to provide global security agencies with a powerful new tool against terrorism.

The United States Transport Security Administration is planning to trial the technology as part of its aviation security measures, recognising that inorganic explosives trace detection is a capability gap which the GreyScan technology fills.

Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne, recently launched a prototype of the Greyscan explosive detection device while visiting the Grey Innovation Group facilities in Melbourne. 

“I commend Grey Innovation Group on this pioneering product which will help make Australians safer. It is yet another example of Australian innovation delivering critical capability,” Mr Pyne said.

“This is an exciting technology which addresses the growing need for detection capabilities at high risk locations such as Defence and police facilities, cargo handling facilities, entry and exit points for large events and of course in the aviation market.”

The Greyscan technology was developed by the University of Tasmania and matured with funding from the National Security Science and Technology Centre which is now part of Defence Science and Technology.

www,defence.gov.au

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JUST ONE YEAR after Recon Solutions’ 50 percent acquisition by People Infrastructure (PI), the recruitment company is increasingly dominating in the ICT recruitment sector – and since the purchase, PI shares have more than doubled, from $1 to $2.30.

Leading up to the acquisition, Recon Solutions consistently achieved 200 percent year-on-year growth over its six-year history. Recon was also recognised as the 12th fastest growing company by BRW magazine in 2016 and was awarded Growth Company of the Year at the annual Recruitment International Awards in 2017.

In recent years, the Recon brand has become renowned for its support of worthy sporting and community causes.

Director and CEO, Steve Scanlan, attributed Recon’s achievements to the company’s hunger to keep improving, as well as its robust culture.

“We’re driven by relationships, not transactions, and our focus is on openness and honesty in business,” Mr Scanlan said. “This is relevant more than ever now that we’re accountable to shareholders in addition to our clients.”

Recon Solutions is also making a name for itself as a good corporate citizen, supporting and sponsoring numerous worthy causes.

Perhaps most notably, Recon is now the major sponsor of Tonga National Rugby League. The investment has helped propel the national team, Mate Ma’a Tonga, to new heights and a level of professionalism which sees them ranked fourth in the world, and set to play Tier One nations in 2019.

It was further announced this week that Mate Ma’a Tonga is top seeded alongside England, Australia and New Zealand in the revamped 2021 World Cup. 

Also noteworthy is Recon Solutions’ early support of Brisbane-local and boxing champion, Jeff Horn. Five years ago, Recon’s sponsorship allowed Horn to train full time and ultimately go on to become a world champion.

Recon Solutions was there when Jeff Horn took on reigning world champion Manny Pacquiao and was also there 18 months later when he defeated Anthony Mundine on November 30 at Suncorp Stadium.

Recon Solutions further supports a wide variety of organisations including the Queensland Ballet, West Fiji Dolphins Club, Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Petero Civoniceva Foundation, and Rochedale State School, among others.

This past spring, Recon raised over $50,000 for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, of which Mr Scanlan sits on the state advisory board.

Most recently, Recon Solutions signed Irish-born and 2018 WBO Intercontinental Champion Dennis ‘Hurricane’ Hogan for a platinum sponsorship.

“He’s quickly becoming boxing’s rising star, and our team believes he’s on his way to a world title win,” Mr Scanlan said.

www.reconsolutions.com.au

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