New hub at Central

WebCentral CEO Andrew Spicer was featured in a press statement today announcing that his firm had “upped its services” with the public release of its WebCentral Application Marketplace, a new online Software as a Service sales hub. The hub specializes in small- to mid-sized enterprises’ needs, offering on-demand business applications such as CRM, accounting, tax management, business processing and website management.

Spicer stated the company had used a limited soft launch as a sort of beta test for the product. Since then, Application Marketplace has reportedly grown by four applications per month since and hosts about 25 local application provider partners. The release represents the first major move made by WebCentral since the announced purchase of the company by Melborne IT last month. Melbourne IT and WebCentral Group have entered into a conditional agreement for Melbourne IT to acquire WebCentral Group via a scheme of arrangement to be voted on by WebCentral Group Shareholders at a Scheme Meeting to be held in late August 2006.

The acquisition would represent a combination of two of Australia’s top six web-services businesses, combined annual sales of over US $130 million and approximately 400 staff members. It is proposed that Lucy Turnbull and Sean Howard will join the Melbourne IT Board if the Scheme is approved, with Melbourne IT CEO / managing director Theo Hnarakis staying in his role as chief executive officer and managing director of the group.

Both companies expect that the combination of Melbourne IT and WebCentral Group to deliver substantial operating synergies and improved services. The acquisition is expected to be significantly EPS accretive for Melbourne IT shareholders in the first full year of combined operations (after allowing for the costs of financing the acquisition and the maximum number of Melbourne IT shares being issued in consideration).

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