A decision's likely by the middle of June on the fate of the New Zealand's biggest IT products distributor, Tech Pacific.
The company is for sale with a number of bids under consideration, says the regional head of Tech Pacific's Dutch owner, Hagemeyer.
Sydney-based Hagemeyer Asia-Pacific chief executive Graham Pickles says while the market "has gone against us" since Hagemeyer announced last November that it would sell or float Tech Pacific, he is pushing ahead with the sale process.
"If we find the right buyer prepared to pay the right price, we'll sell. If the pricing is not right, we'll continue to be the happy owner," Pickles says.
He wouldn't provide any clue as to what the "right price" might be, nor which buyers are courting him.
"Tech Pacific is an incredibly good business which will do better than $A3 billion in sales this year in Asia-Pacific," he says. That's in contrast to a loss-making European IT distribution business also owned by Hagemeyer, Computerij, which the company is selling parts of and shutting others down.
"Tech Pacific is the last major piece of what might be called Hagemeyer's non-core business," Pickles says, which the company is disposing of as it concentrates on distribution of electrical goods and other industrial products.
The sale or float process is being managed by merchant bank Salomon Smith Barney. Pickles says taking the company public is a strong option, but perhaps not just now.
"The investment advice is we're a good company to float but not in the present environment."
Tech Pacific's New Zealand business is worth about $300 million a year, based largely on sales of Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Microsoft and Cisco products.
Microsoft New Zealand managing director Geoff Lawrie says he's "interested" in Tech Pacific's future, since it's Microsoft's biggest local distributor and a major feature of the New Zealand IT landscape.
Up-and-coming distributor Ingram Micro, whose New Zealand business is a fifth the size of Tech Pacific but which is 10 times bigger overall, is keen to add major new hardware brands to its list of local agencies.
Its Asia-Pacific head, Hans Koppen, doesn't rule out a deal with Tech Pacific.Photograph: Hans Koppen