Former Minister plans data centre at scrapped Fairfax plant

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Former Minister plans data centre at scrapped Fairfax plant
A rendition of the site published with the ADX sharemarket announcement

Tullamarine facility earmarked for server racks.

A company chaired by Howard-era minister Ian Campbell has proposed the build of a data centre in Fairfax's defunct printing plant at Tullamarine, Melbourne, under a complicated capital raising that requires the backdoor float of a new company.

ADX Management Limited, chaired by Campbell and formed on 18 August, 2014, plans to raise capital to refurb the facility after a reverse listing with ASX-listed IM Medical.

Tullamarine – a familiar landmark on the freeway between Melbourne's CBD and airport – was opened in 2003 to print metro daily The Age and other Fairfax papers. It cost $220 million to construct. In June 2012, Fairfax revealed it would close the plant, along with its major Sydney production site in Chullora, and cut 1,900 jobs in a bid to save $250 million.

Data centres and printing facilities have one thing in common - a significant requirement for power. On that basis, several data centres have been built in close proximity to the power substations that service printing facilities, such as the Vocus data centre co-located with Hannanprint in Alexandria. 

ADX has told the market it will offer data centre services from the Tullamarine facility from as early as March 2015, promising a "significant data centre exceeding 7,200sqm of multi-tier white space at 20MW capacity".

Stage 1 of the data centre is expected to cost $35 million and create around 2,300sqm of space, with 2.3 MW capacity.

The same company is proposing the addition of 23,000sqm of data centre space at an undisclosed facility in Brisbane, comprised of five data centre halls and an office building, which is estimated to cost $40 million.

Campbell worked in the property sector prior to his 17 years in Parliament, and has also served as chairman of WA-based IT services group ASG since mid-2007, a company that recently sold off its Perth facility to Vocus but remains a tenant within it.

The listing

The Tullamarine and Brisbane data centres are being proposed through a complex acquisition of a publicly listed shell company.

ASX-listed IM Medical, a firm that floated in 1996 and was historically involved in radiology, is being restructured via a backdoor float by ADX Management, "a specialist management company [and] manager of the Australian Data Exchange Trust".

Since December, IM Medical had been working on a deal with another tech firm, White Data, that up until today looked set to go ahead. However, IM Medical terminated that proposed contract because of a failure to meet the merger implementation timeline, paving the way for the new tie-up with ADX.

IM Medical director Richard Wadley told iTnews sister publication CRN that while the deal with ADX isn't exactly a reverse listing, the company will see a wholesale change of the board and executive, as well as being renamed ADX Holdings.

According to today's announcement to the sharemarket, "IMI Limited has terminated its previous agreement with White Data Limited and is pleased to announce that it has entered into a broader agreement to acquire 100 percent of ADX Management Limited in exchange for $6 million of shares in IMI."

Failed suitor White Data had been set to acquire the Brisbane data centre site, and it remains unclear how ADX is now the would-be purchaser of this property.

White Data, incorporated in October 2012, specialises "in the management and operation of data centres". It has no revenue and posted a $1.1 million loss in the 12 months to 30 June 2013, its first full year of trading. 

The deal is forecast to complete in late October 2014, before which there are a number of hurdles to clear, including raising the required $6 million capital for the deal, raising finance and executing the contract for Tullamarine property, completing the transfer of the Brisbane site to the new owners and gaining shareholder approval.

Learn more about new data centre builds at the Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit in March, 2015.

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