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SA's finest chopped up for bush meat

Siltek down, Africam out, Comdex on Ice

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The biggest tech news to come from South Africa (SA) this week was the shock report that Siltek, the holding company for a variety of mostly distribution-focused businesses, has applied for provisional liquidation.

In recent years, Siltek conducted an aggressive acquisition drive, snapping up a variety of smaller IT companies on its quest to become "the leader in the southern African technology supply chain".

To do this, the company accumulated a vast amount of debt, which has now become unmanageable in the economic downturn. Adding to its woes were a botched accounting software installation, expensive mergers and more.

CEO Dave Lello says he hopes to reopen come Monday, although right now it is uncertain whether or not this will be possible. The news is already out that many of its subsidiary companies (all of which are either profitable or breaking even) plan to attempt management buy-outs.

Whatever happens, it is bleak news for SA's IT industry, with a long list of companies whose businesses were either owned, partnered with or linked to Siltek, which will now be exposed. Of course, rival distributor Tarsus Technology was not falling over itself in despair at the news, as reported in local channel mag CRN, but you can be sure that not too many others will be smiling.

Look at the pretty elephant. Where did it go?
In other news, the widely popular Africam, which served up live images of elephants and other animals that wildlife lovers lust after, has followed the same path as Siltek.

Local news service ITWeb reports that the company is also currently scrambling to find a saviour in the form of additional funding. Not that long ago, it was being heralded as one of the local e-business success stories.

The news service also reports that the Comdex trade show is unlikely to find its way into the country after the director with the rights to the trade show, Kathy Fielding, left the country. This follows her failure to attend the inquiry into the liquidation of her company, Core Holdings.

Recently, The Reg reported on Datatec's directors being slapped (rather hard) on the wrists for insider trading.

In brighter news, SA's Business Report wrote that the beleaguered rand "sparkled" during trading on Monday, giving its best intraday performance in seven months on news of improved foreign sentiment and the announcement that the reserve bank would not buy dollars to reduce its foreign exchange liabilities.

It also noted that credit ratings analyst Moody's had confirmed that it was reviewing the country's debt ratings for a possible upgrade. Analysts did warn though that the currency was not "out of the woods" yet. ®

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