Altech joins techs in move to Buccleuch

The area around Buccleuch in Johannesburg is becoming something of a technology hub. By Duncan McLeod.

Craig Venter

The stretch of land around the confluence of the M1, N1 and N3 highways at Buccleuch, north of Johannesburg, is turning into something of a corporate information and communications technology hub.

Just months after mobile operator Cell C said it would build an elaborate new head office campus in the area, JSE-listed technology group Altech has signalled it will move soon into a new office in the area.

Altech’s new office, which it will lease rather than buy, is situated across the road from Cell C’s sprawling new campus, currently under construction, and next to US software company Oracle’s SA head office.

Other technology companies that straddle the Buccleuch interchange include Nashua and On Digital Media, owner of satellite pay-television service TopTV.

The area provides easy access north to Midrand and Pretoria, east to OR Tambo International airport, south to Sandton and Johannesburg, and west to Fourways, Randburg and Roodepoort.

Altech CEO Craig Venter says the group had to find new head-office space because its existing facility, on the M1 in Houghton, is “bursting at the seams”. When the lease for its current building came up for renewal, Venter says the group immediately began looking around for larger premises. It has been in Houghton for about a decade.

Initially, Altech had wanted to build its own head office but decided against this option because of the “cost-consciousness” of the group, whose operations in East and West Africa remain a drag on its financial performance.

“The rental cost per square metre at Buccleuch is the same as we are paying now,” Venter says. “We have a bigger space — 1000sq m — at the same square-metre price.”

The new head office building will be closer to several of Altech’s operating companies, including Autopage Cellular and Netstar, both of which are based in nearby Midrand. Altech will move into the new office at the end of October.

Altech’s new office will be dwarfed by Cell C’s new facility, which is being built from scratch to the operator’s specifications and consist of 50 000sq m of space. It will integrate the operator’s disparate offices, which are located across the city of Johannesburg, from Parktown to Sandton.

It will house Cell C’s head office, a national network operations centre, customer walk-in centres, its call centre and a distribution warehouse.

Cell C is currently headquartered in central Sandton.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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