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Golfer backs chip to drive him further

Author: Simon Evans
Date: 05/09/2002
Words: 326
Publication: Australian Financial Review
Section: News
Page: 9
Greg Norman has built his fortune off the golf course through substantial real-estate developments and by lending his name to a successful wine brand Greg Norman Estates, sold by Foster's Group.

Fellow Australian golf champion Stuart Appleby is taking a different route, investing $US500,000 ($920,000) in an Australian company called Powerchip.

Powerchip produces small computer chips that enhance the automotive performance of prestige cars, including the BMW M5 that Mr Appleby parks at his home in Orlando, Florida.

The golfer's car was fitted with a chip early last year.

Mr Appleby, who was in Melbourne yesterday, has also become a director of Powerchip Group as it mounts an expansion push in the United States.

He came across the company in an Australian car magazine after "looking for more" out of his BMW and finding no product in the US that delivered the results he wanted.

Mr Appleby said Powerchip was his first substantial business investment, although he is a consultant to the Torquay Sands golf course development in Victoria, scheduled to open in November next year.

He said he undertook extensive due diligence on Powerchip, which is owned by Melbourne automotive software specialist Wayne Besanko.

"I flipped the egg a hundred times to make sure it was viable," he said.

The performance chips, which range in price from $500 to $10,000, are encrypted to prevent piracy and work by modifying computer programs that govern the car engine.

Mr Appleby's $US500,000 investment gives him a substantial minority stake in Powerchip Group, which will have its US headquarters in Santa Monica, California.

He has already talked to fellow golf professional and close neighbour Tiger Woods about the merits of the chip for the two late-model Porsches that sit in the American golfer's garage in Florida.

"I've told Tiger there's something in the wind for him," Mr Appleby said.

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