Fuji Xerox Buys Copy Business

Newcastle Herald

Saturday July 7, 2001

By IAN KIRKWOOD

FUJI Xerox Australia has bought the photocopy machine side of the Lloyd Scott business, saving the jobs of 54 people in Newcastle and New England.

Company managing director Philip Chambers made the announcement yester-day afternoon at Lloyd Scott's Samdon St premises in Hamilton.

Mr Chambers said a Xerox management team headed by Adrian Slater would come from Sydney to run the business, which employed45 people in Newcastle and nine in New England.

He said Xerox would not buy the printery side of the business, because it constituted a conflict of interest.

`We supply machines to many of the small printing businesses,the Snap printeries and the like, and to then operate a printing business in competition with them is perhaps not the best way to go about things,' Mr Chambers said.

He said he believed this conflict of interest would have been a problem for Lloyd Scott Enterprises (LSE).

LSE was put into voluntary administration on June 25.

The National Australia Bank appointed its own receiver on Monday.

LSE's debts have been estimated to be as high as $44.5million, with a likely shortfall of at least $28million.

Xerox bought the photocopying business from the receiver, Deloittes partner David Lombe, but Mr Chambers declined to say how much the company paid.

He said LSE owed Xerox at least $4million, an unsecured debt that was unlikely to be recovered.

Mr Chambers said the leasing irregularities uncovered by administrator Ray Tolcher, of Lawler Partners, were yet to be settled.

`There are a significant number of finance companies involved and it's not yet clear exactly where the primary title lies, with most of the copiers out on lease,' he said.

`It will take another two weeks to make all that clear.'

Xerox was `absolutely unaware' of the irregularities but Mr Chambers could not comment because `investigations are ongoing'.

`I do know that in other industries, national registers are held of these types of lease portfolios and I'd have to say it would be sensible for a similar situation to exist with this type of asset,' Mr Chambers said.

He said the sponsorship deal with Newcastle United soccer team was still up in the air.

`He has had all sorts of support activities and until we have a better idea of the underlying profitability of the business, we really can't comment on that,' Mr Chambers said.

`We've really been spending all of our time trying to understand the trading position of the business, the financial position of the business.

`The longer these things go on, the more uncertainty there is and the more impact there is on staff.'

Xerox was in Newcastle until the early 1980s, when it decided to confine its direct outlets to capital cities.

It then engaged local business people in the regions as `strategic partners'.

`Newcastle was always marginal in terms of that decision to pull back to just the State capitals,' Mr Chambers said.

`There would have been people in the business who would have questioned why wepulled out of Newcastle and there are times when I have asked myself that question occasionally.'

© 2001 Newcastle Herald

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