Companies on the Move

Eldridge, Brightstar, Claure Group win agreement to buy Ausenco

BRISBANE-Headquartered Ausenco, a global integrated engineering and consulting services provider to the minerals and metals industries – and increasingly the energy transition market – has confirmed a ‘definitive agreement’ to sell a majority stake to bidders Eldridge, Brightstar Capital Partners, and Claure Group.

Ausenco’s co-founder, Zimi Meka, will remain CEO, board member and investor.  Mike Burke, the former chairman and CEO of AECOM, served as an advisor and partner to Eldridge and the buyer consortium and he is expected to join Ausenco’s board of directors as chairman.

The consortium has bought a majority stake in Ausenco from Resource Capital Fund VI L.P. and other co-investors. 

Founded in 1991, Ausenco’s 3,000 employees are focused on the world’s most challenging engineering and consulting projects, drawing on deep technical expertise with a commitment to sustainably delivering end-to-end solutions for its clients and their communities.

Ausenco’s team of scientists, engineers and professionals design and build efficient mine and metal extraction facilities; deliver sustainable mine waste and water management, and mine closure and remediation solutions; and engage with local and Indigenous communities to create lasting benefit.

“We’ve always been about challenging what’s possible and delivering services sustainably and with integrity,” Mr Meka said. “From permitting to closure, our people are finding better ways to plan projects, efficiently use resources, protect the environment, and deliver value to clients and communities. In Eldridge, Brightstar, and Claure Group we have partners that understand this ambition and our culture.”

Eldridge co-founders Todd Boehly, Tony Minella and Duncan Bagshaw made a joint statement: “We invest in what people need and what people want – both qualities expressed in Ausenco’s activity the past three decades.

“Ausenco has worked around the world to deliver minerals critical to nearly every aspect of our lives and to the ongoing energy transition. We are excited to partner with a world-class management team to further enhance and diversify their service offerings.”

Brightstar Capital Partners founder and CEO, Andrew Weinberg said, “Ausenco plays a vital role in facilitating the global transition to electrification and electric vehicles.  Brightstar is confident that Ausenco is strategically positioned for future growth due to its impressive track record of performance, and the anticipated increased demand for metals and minerals that are essential to sustainable solutions.”

Claure Group founder and CEO, Marcelo Claure, who will join Ausenco’s board, said, “With the shift to more sustainable energy gaining momentum, Latin America will have a key role to play as the main producing region for essential minerals, such as copper and lithium.

“Given Ausenco’s strong presence and pipeline of projects in the region, we believe the company will be at the forefront of this transition, actively contributing to the electrification of the world.”

Claure Group is a multi-billion-dollar global investment firm spanning multiple high growth sectors including tech, telecom, media, real estate, essential minerals, and sports, led by Marcelo Claure. Notable investments include T-Mobile, where Claure is the largest individual shareholder; SHEIN, the global number one on-demand fashion company; Bicycle Capital, a Latin America focused growth equity fund; and Brightstar Capital Partners, a leading US middle market private equity firm.

Perella Weinberg Partners is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Ausenco in connection with the transaction.

Franchisees buy into Jim's better lifestyle

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

JIM’S GROUP, the company behind outfits like Jim’s Mowing, Jim’s Dog Wash, and Jim’s Cleaning, has had spectacular growth.

Jim Penman, who created the company, said the growth might come from what’s been termed the ‘Great Resignation’ – a recent phenomenon of many people leaving their jobs – and he also saw that a great many of Jim’s franchisees were immigrants.

Mr Penman said another reason for the growth was that the franchisees were working from home.

Jim’s has a policy where all work is localised, so franchisees don’t have to drive to work that’s more than 10 to 15 minutes away from their home. It means commuting is kept to a minimum.

“The aim of the system is to reduce travelling to an extreme degree” Mr Penman told Talking Business

“So someone might be spending their whole day working within a 10 to 15 minute drive from their house.”

He said many studies had found that people hate commuting more than anything.

“They reckon that someone on $75,000 a year who is working from home or close by has the same level of satisfaction as someone on $150,000 with an hour long commute,” he said.

“It sounds astonishing but that’s what the research shows.”

Franchises to suit most people

Jim’s Group has 52 franchises. The most successful are mowing, dog wash, pool care, cleaning, fencing, pest control, handyman, security doors, IT and book-keeping.

The most popular is mowing. Dog wash is the fastest growing.

Australians and New Zealanders find it easy to make the transition to running their own business because they are egalitarian, according to Mr Penman. He said it was “a distinctive feature of Australian society”.

“If you were in Texas and you said you were leaving some corporate desk job to go and start a lawn mowing business, people would say, ‘Come on, you’re going to work with your hands? That’s for Mexicans and blacks, the lesser breeds,” Mr Penman said.

“But in Australia, if you’re a manager and you want to run your own business, you’d say ‘Isn’t that great? I always wanted to be self-employed’.

“This idea of independence is very Australian.”

Making ‘a go’ of own business

Australians loved the idea of being in charge of their own business, Mr Penman said.

As a result, he said a lot of people with corporate backgrounds in management become franchisees.

“The opportunities are quite extraordinary and we find that people with that background tend to do very well,” he said.

Mr Penman said the group encouraged franchisees to employ people and build a workforce for their company. The fee of $800 (per month) was nothing compared with what they would be making.

The top companies in the Jim’s Group had turnover in the millions, he said.

“If you are actually successful and can take on workers, you can be turning over a vast sum of money and your fees would be $800 a month. It’s almost trivial,” Mr Penman said.

He said the biggest problem was finding good people, Mr Penman said.

Most people select a franchise because it’s better for their lifestyle, according to Mr Penman said.

“They tend to say $120,000 a year is all I need but I want to see my kids growing up,” he said.


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

EZZ Life focuses on genomics to develop targeted treatments

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

EZZ Life Science, an Australian  life sciences company, is now spearheading a push into personalised medical treatment based on people’s DNA, utilising the science of genomics.

EZZ Life listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in March 2021 and its core business was to produce and distribute consumer health products. EZZ Life has been the exclusive distributor for a range of skincare products to pharmacies, markets and retailers in Australia and New Zealand and it also has an e-commerce business in China for skin care and consumer health care products. 

It has now become a true life sciences company by entering the field of genomics. EZZ Life has equipment and processes to look at people’s DNA and determining whether there are problems with the genetic code that may cause disease or serious birth defects.

EZZ Life chairman, Glenn Cross said the company is looking at genomics to personalise treatment. This was based on research from case studies and medical data.

“We’ve known that three people may have lung cancer and they’re treated with the gold standard drug at the moment and, out of those three people, only one person may respond to it,” Mr Cross told Talking Business.

“So it’s based on your own personal DNA, whether you respond to specific treatment regimes.

“It’s a really growing sector of health care and quite frankly, sometime in the future, all of us will have genomic testing and we’ll be taking personalised treatment as part of our standard health care tool box.”

Focus on human health threats

EZZ Life is focusing on areas such as longevity, human papilloma virus (HPV) and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) which is a type of bacterium that can live in the lining of the stomach.

Mr Cross said a large proportion of people in China have H. pylori and HPV has become “quite prevalent” across western society.

“We’re going to focus on those two areas in terms of our diagnostic testing and the products that we will roll out progressively will be a treatment aid for those diseases,” he said.

“This is good for society in general. Just the health care costs in general [are on the rise] in our western society. Genomic testing can lower the cost of treatment significantly as we move forward over the next decade.”

Collaborative approach

Mr Cross said EZZ, in addition to its own research, was partnering with different organisations to develop genomic testing.

“The team has been working for some time talking to specific research groups,” he said. “We’ve also been talking to potential partners for the diagnostic testing and we’ve also been talking to potential health care partners, both medical people and potentially hospitals as well.

“We wouldn’t do all of this by ourselves. Our focus will be more on the products we believe may be used in the treatment regimes.”

Mr Cross said a lot of the research was now happening in Australia in this area of medicine and health treatment.

He said Australia and New Zealand were still the core markets for all of EZZ’s products.

“But our growing business in China, our e-commerce business for our health supplements and our beauty products offers us an opportunity to market these products.”

Mr Cross said the e-commerce chains EZZ Life had developed would market the genomics products into China.

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

When a telco becomes your Mate

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

MATE, an independently owned, Sydney based challenger telco provider is taking on the big players in the industry through great customer service and exceptional value for their customers.

It is a family business run by two brothers, David and Mark Fazio, that was rolled out at the same time as the NBN was introduced and telcos were still using ADSL. It was the one of the first telcos to offer unlimited NBN broadband and deliver NBN broadband and better service for consumers in a market where it wasn’t being pushed.

Mark Fazio said the gap that Mate is offering now in the market is its simple ‘no frills’ approach.

“What we’re doing is simple things. It’s not rocket science. We are simplifying the process to get people connected,” Mr Fazio told Talking Business.

“Everybody needs mobile and internet, everybody needs NBN, but the NBN offers a very convoluted process to get connected. There’s multiple technologies, there’s multiple hardware variables that you have to think of in your home. 

“For the everyday person, that can get very convoluted and complicated and the difference we offer is a very no-frills approach to simplifying what you need to get connected.”

Mate offers unlimited NBN from $59 a month but when it is bundled with mobile, it is reduced to $49 a month.

Call centre based in Australia

Mate has its call centre in Australia, “not in the Philippines or India” Mr Fazio said.

“What really proved that model right was during the COVID period,” Mr Fazio said. “If you look during the COVID period, a lot of our competitors weren’t even answering the phone because a lot of their call centres were based in the Philippines or India. And obviously the breakout of COVID meant they couldn’t accelerate people working from home as quickly as we could here.

“The reason why I think COVID is the important thing to happen to our business is it allowed us to show off what we do and how we do it better than anybody else. It allowed Australian consumers to see what we do and how we can make their lives easier. Our job is simply to get people connected and keep them connected.”

Mr Fazio said Mate has a policy of no contracts for customers.

“We’ve always had no contract services. We don’t believe in contracts, there are no contracts between mates,” he said. “That’s what our brand is all about. Our brand is all about mateship and how to be your best mate for your internet and mobile service. Offering contracts doesn’t allow us to be mates.”

He said Mate had developed a culture for its workforce. The other distinctive features of Mate were its simplified systems, its open access to customers and having an Australian based call centre.

Home-grown company

As part of its culture, the family business started in the back yard of the Fazio brothers’ aunt’s home.

“We grew it to about 30,000 customers in my auntie’s back yard,” Mr Fazio said.

“We hired about 15 cousins and family members. We’re Italians so there’s a lot of us and there are a lot of resources to call upon.

“We’ve kept true to the original culture which is it’s a family run and owned business, and that started from mates getting together,” he said.

“If you look at our business today, the one thing that was unique about our business was when we were in my auntie’s back yard, is that she would cook every day for us

“Now we’re in a big corporate office in Western Sydney and my auntie is still cooking for everybody every day.”


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



Renovatio shifts health focus to simply ‘staying well’

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

SINCE the pandemic, people have been drawn to health and immunity issues.

Renovatio Bioscience, one of the country’s fastest growing health and wellness brands, is addressing this now and is selling its branded ‘staying healthy’ product in Woolworths’ supermarkets.

Renovatio is the brainchild of Dr Vincent Candrawinata, a food scientist, clinical nutritionist, researcher and health and wellness expert who developed the product while doing his PhD at the University of Newcastle -- and key elements of Renovatio have been drawn from his research on apples.

He said his firm’s research during the pandemic found that people wanted online health information without the vanity aspects (eg: how much weight do I have to lose?). People now wanted to know how they and their families could ‘stay’ healthy.

Dr Candrawinata said boosting the immune system was not good for one’s health. The better alternative, he said, was to ensure the body was healthy enough to fight off diseases.

“When we look at the market, the majority of immune support supplements only address the systems, like runny nose or sore throat,” Dr Candrawinata told Talking Business

“As a scientist, you know that 70 percent of your immune system originates from your gut health, and this is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to address the immune system aspect as well as the inflammation aspect because a lot of people understand they can fall sick from viral or bacterial infections but not a lot of people know that inflammation is the root cause of the majority of diseases that we experience,” he said.

Key components

Ingredients in the Renovatio products include antioxidants which he developed during his PhD research, Quercetin to support healthy digestive system function and to relieve inflammation and reduce free radical damage, plus zinc and vitamin C.

Dr Candrawinata said this was not to boost the immune system, but instead it is there to ensure the immune system works properly. It brings the body to a homeostatic state where it can respond properly to infection and inflammation.

Renovatio is working with Australian apple farmers to produce ingredients for its product. Dr Candrawinata said he had been working with apple farmers during his research.

The main supplier is the Australian Apple Farmers’ Co-operative.

Support from Woolworths

Dr Candrawinata said Woolworths had been “nurturing and collaborative” and that Renovatio has now become one of Woolworths’ best-selling health products.

“The support that they give us in terms of logistics, in terms of warehousing, in terms of fulfilling demand, have been just phenomenal,” he said.

“We have a very strong collaborative spirit in our research team. I’m very happy that my experience as an academic is applicable to the retail giant and we have been very fortunate to have a really good partner in terms of achieving our dream as a company and my personal dream.”

Dr Candrawinata said fundamentally Renovatio sought to reduce the body’s inflammation rate.

“One of the reasons the body can’t respond properly to the chance of infection is because our body is too busy taking care of inflammation,” he said.

“If we give health to our body to fight off inflammation, it means we are giving our bodies a much better chance to do what they’re supposed to do efficiently.”


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

Igniting success for professional services

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

IGNITION is the worlds first client engagement and commerce platform for professional services, and today it serves more than 100,000 clients worldwide.

Yet the business was only created in Australia in 2009 by accounting entrepreneur, Guy Pearson.  How did it get to this level – in just 14 years – of being a global business helping accounting, bookkeeping and professional services businesses streamline how they engage clients … and get paid?

Mr Pearson said the key to setting up a global business was to “go early”.

“We went early, earlier than most,” Mr Pearson told Talking Business

“I’ve watched a few businesses go straight from landing a few hundred or 1000 customers in Australia in B2B business software and head overseas. They would land over there and they will have raised a big chunk of money to build a much bigger team, where they were obviously going to have success – and then they get over there and tend to squander all the money that they raised

“We went early, on to the US, UK Canada. As a result we got to our first hundred customers. And as those businesses grew and the cloud adoption curve shifted in the B2B landscape in those countries, we were able to follow that on with investment and drive that right up,” Mr Pearson said.

“We already had 50 customers from each of those regions before we had any presence there. So we thought there was interest. The research said the market was big enough to support our software. There weren’t any competitors.

“But typically, the only way you can prove all of that is to get someone over there who can speak to customers, partners, industry bodies and everything else in their time zone and then go in and shake their hand.”

Going beyond the cloud

Mr Pearson said the biggest problem facing accountants tended to be that they had moved to the cloud, successfully, but had not gone to the next stage of building up the advisory side of their business. Many accountants have problems communicating with their clients, he said.

“If you’re an accountant and you’ve got clients, you’re either too busy, or you have not put in the systems and spent enough time doing the research and development of your firm and have the tools in place to actually have conversations with your clients,” Mr Pearson said.

“I think there is the opportunity to have the correct conversations.”

Professional services people needed to be more proactive in their conversations with clients, he said.

Going beyond ‘compliance income’

Mr Pearson said the accounting sector was reasonably resilient, being underpinned by ‘compliance income’.

“The fall off will be with small business clients imploding,” he warned. Ignition helped to provide indicators early, so the hard discussions could be raised by accountants.

“Now accountants who have those conversations with their clients will probably avoid all of that – and their clients won’t go under,” Mr Pearson said.

He said communicating, and especially having direct conversations, was the only way to keep clients on board.

One of the issues for accountants, and other professional services firms, was the frustratingly long cash cycles. Simply, it can take a lot waiting of time before they are paid.

The way to deal with that, he said, was to have the conversation with the client up front.

“Make sure you get a promissory of paying some of your fees at least,” he said.

Doing that would ensure the firm could stay resilient in a tough period, Mr Pearson said.


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



Why acquisition is the key to growing your business the fast way

Business leaders on the growth path should seriously take a look at quality acquisitions, according to commercial lawyer Joanna Oakey, the author of Buy Grow Exit.

By Joanna Oakey >>

THE REASONS for buying a business (or into a business) vary. You might be starting out in business, replacing a job with a business, or you might be acquiring a business for the growth of your existing business –a supercharged way to grow and gain uplift in the value of your business.

Acquiring an existing business rather than starting from the ground up, or building from within (‘organic’ growth), can give you instant access to established systems, and customer and supplier bases.

It can also be an extremely powerful move even if you are looking at exit, as strategic acquisition can have an immediate impact on business value. Here is a snapshot of the main benefits.


Pursuing an acquisition strategy offers the ability to add to your client base immediately, thus increasing your total revenue. 

It also comes with an ability to increase profit by stripping out costs – for example, reception, administration, accounting, marketing – either partly or fully absorbing them into the existing business’ overheads. 

This won’t be possible with all expenses, however where costs remain there can be cost savings due to economies of scale – you now have the purchasing power of two businesses.

These factors alone can achieve significant acceleration of profit and economies of scale.



Especially in a tight labour market, acquisitions can be a great way to add new expertise to your business and increase your overall workforce size.

Each team member comes with industry knowledge, skills and experience – all of which are valuable in propelling the business to greater success.

These employees are also likely to have an existing network of industry contacts, which further widens the business’s potential reach and impact.



You may be seeking a target that will complement your existing products or services (for example, adding financial advice into an accounting practice), or simply to add in to your existing service or product mix.

When you can offer better solutions through more holistic services, it can present a massive opportunity to increase the leads and revenue for each business separately – and produce a better, more complete customer solution for both sets of client bases.

If you are acquiring additional service lines or products, you will also gain the ability to upsell and cross-sell between the old and the new offerings, which can provide quick gains and increase the value within each additional type of service or product business you are adding.



Value at sale is often based on the multiplier that is applied to your earnings (eg, two-times or 2× profit), and that multiplier generally increases with the size of the business.

For example, micro businesses can sell as low as 1× earnings, whereas larger SMEs can attract multiples of at least 3× or 4× earnings depending on the industry.

By acquiring and becoming a bigger business, you’re likely to increase your multiple (eg from 2× to 3×) and therefore your overall business valuation too.

Sometimes the amount you will gain in this respect outweighs the cost of acquiring – for example you may  buy an existing business for $1m but add $1.5m to your existing business value.



Adding a business in another location instantly allows the existing company to increase the geographical reach of its existing products or services – gyms and health care businesses are a great example of this.

Sometimes it can also enable the business to gain a foothold in an entirely new area not previously serviced by either entity.

When you acquire a business that is related to or complements your own products and services, you can also increase your share of the market by taking out competitors. Ultimately, the larger market share is generally tied to improved value through increased efficiency and easier brand recognition in the market.

Years of organic growth can be achieved in a single deal through a strategic acquisition. Whatever your reason, and whatever the size of your acquisition ‘target’, the fundamentals remain the same: prepare, understand key value in the businesses, understand risks, follow a strong process and structure strategically.

Done the right way, I believe acquisitions truly provide the ultimate opportunity to build extraordinary wealth. 


About the author

Joanna Oakey, author of Buy Grow Exit, is the founder and managing partner of commercial law firm Aspect Legal. She is also the host of the successful business podcasts Talking Law and The Deal Room. Ms Oakey brings decades of experience-based insights from working with business owners (and their advisors) on acquisitions, exits and general commercial legal matters.


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