Ex-Kaz insider opens acquisition war chest

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Ex-Kaz insider opens acquisition war chest
Artis Group managing director Chris Greatrex.

Australian software integrator Artis Group has snapped up Adelaide services firm Tapestry, with ex-Kaz executive Michael O'Sullivan spearheading a push for further acquisition targets.

The Tapestry buyout brings on board one of the leading Microsoft Dynamics CRM businesses, with eight staff coming across from the Adelaide firm.

The purchase is part of a "concerted growth strategy", with the Microsoft .Net, Azure and Sharepoint specialist looking for more acquisitions. Artis is "aggressively" looking at acquisitions all the time, said managing director Chris Greatrex.

"We do have a bit of a war chest we're trying to make best use of," he told CRN.

Greatrex said Artis had achieved over 20 percent organic growth year-on-year. "By 2016 we want to be a $50 million business. We're well over $10 million today," he said.

A key player in this acquisition push is Artis commercial director Michael O'Sullivan, who was involved in the acquisition of around ten businesses by Kaz Group worth approximately $350 million, according to a statement from the company.

"Michael was kind of Peter Kazacos' right hand man in building up Kaz, including that financial acquisition of Aspect Group," said Greatrex.

Kaz was sold to Telstra in 2004 for $333 million. Artis Group was established in 2005.

Artis has about 80 staff, Greatrex said. While the company specialises in Sharepoint, SQL Server, Azure, Dynamics ERP and .Net, the Tapestry buyout will add capability in the Dynamics CRM space.

"This gives us a lot more strength in that dynamic CRM space," Greatrex told CRN. "We have a very complementary customer base, there's no overlap in the customers."

Tapestry has a contract management solution used by the South Australian government. The buyout will allow Artis to take the Adelaide firms' contract management system to customers in the NSW, Victoria, Queensland and federal governments, said Greatrex.

He said a decision to get out of infrastructure business, which was sold to The Missing Link four years ago, had proven to be a good decision. Since then, Artis has focussed application development and cloud computing.

"The infrastructure business, four years ago you were still getting some margin - that's getting harder and harder," Greatrex said.

Greatrex also expected the establishment of a local Azure data centre to help drive demand.

"Massive, it'll be massive, we can't wait. Because I think it will be a lot easier to serve up Dynamic CRM and SharePoint if we can serve it up on the Azure platform and data sovereignty issue are taken off table. Based on customers' feedback we think it will take off."

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