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July 26, 1994

IMI PAYS COMPUTER POWER GROUP TO TAKE REDWOOD AWAY

By CBR Staff Writer

Uniplex Ltd, the UK-based Unix office software company that was taken over by IMI Plc at the end of 1991 (CI No 1,820), has now been acquired by Melbourne, Australia-based Computer Power Group Pty Ltd via its US CP Software Group arm in Folsom, California. But while IMI paid ?15m upfront for Uniplex holding company Redwood International less than three years ago, CP Software is paying only a ?5m secured promissary note repayable within five years. IMI, which sold 75% of its Brook Street Computers to Sanderson Electronics Plc earlier this year (CI No 2,353), will retain a stake in Redwood, taking convertible preferred stock and 19.9% of common stock in a new company formed by CP to hold its interest. And IMI is making up to ?6m in interest-bearing loans to CP to support the repositioning and restructuring of Redwood. Redwood made operating losses of ?4m last year, and the operating loss for the half to June is expected to be ?8m; its net asset value is ?13m. Insiders say some 90 people, almost half the UK workforce, may have gone. The firm employs 320 in total. While the original Uniplex 2 integrated office software suite was once market leader and still sells well, the new generation OnGo client-server office line has been slow to come out and industry watchers fear the delay has allowed competitors, especially Microsoft Corp to catch up. Uniplex’s forthcoming document management software is due in September, but CP Software already owns directly competing products: it has the Island Write, Draw and Paint packages from its 1993 acquisition of Island Graphics, and two document management tools, Intext and the document search technology it acquired from Harwell Laboratory back in 1987, and owns the Today applications generator. All now have a relatively low market profile, and one source dubbed Computer Power a sort of Australian Computer Associates.

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