Who's up for sale?

Who's up for sale?

With speculation rampant about possible mergers and acquisitions in the distribution ranks, ARN took to the phones last week to find out who is in play and who isn't.

Software distributor Roadshow Interactive is owned by Roadshow Entertainment whose man-aging partner is the Village Group. But that could be set to change.

"Our interactive division is currently in discussions with prospective partners. We are not selling the business, but looking to expand it by taking on partners.

"Probably the best lead I can give you is that there is the building of a new super distributor. What you are probably going to see is the conglomeration of a couple of significant players including Roadshow."

- Chris Chard, managing director, Roadshow EntertainmentAnabelle Bits is an Australian-owned distributor of PC and network hardware. It has warded off recent approaches from foreign parties and declares itself as not being currently for sale.

"Definitely not. We are proudly Australian and wouldn't want to sell ourselves off to overseas interests.

"There have been some approaches from overseas recently, but probably, in the end, no price was going to be right for us to sell.

"We would always look at opportunities to expand through acquisitions of our own and have entertained that idea by looking at service organisations." - Ken Lowe, managing director, Anabelle BitsSynnex Australia is the local operation of its global parent. As one of the biggest distributors in the world, it needs to expand its operations in Australia or face stiff competition from rivals.

"I am authorised by the Synnex board of directors to acquire any appropriate partner in Australia, but so far have not found any. We would be happy to hear from any company that wants to align with Synnex with a view to their long-term survival, although we don't have time to save them if they are in trouble.

"In the longer term, the arrival of big US-based distributors is a concern to us."

- Frank Sheu, managing director, Synnex AustraliaSoftware distributor Marketing Results is another locally owned and growing operator subscribing to the theory that everything is for sale.

"We are always for sale; it is just a matter of what the right price is. We haven't received any approaches recently, but there has been in the past." - Rod Orrock, managing director, Marketing ResultsGlobal CHS Electronics recently acquired national hardware distributor CHA. It didn't want to comment last week on the possibility of any further acquisitions by it or CHS.

The CHA organisation has been renowned for its policy of expansion through acquisition, as is the new big brother. The vast resources of CHS should see other players joining the fold to form a distribution power.

After completing a national consolidation splurge, CHA's executive chairman, Stephen Sampson, was quoted in ARN during October last year as saying: "Our buying spree is far from over. We are currently working with a number of well-known distribution companies both in and out of Australia which we are looking at acquiring in the not-too-distant future."

- Stephen Sampson, executive chairman, CHAIndependent hardware distributor Dicker Data is one name often bandied around as a likely target for foreign entry into Australia or as an ally with other local distributors to compete against them.

"There are lots of changes happening at the moment, and I'm sure that in six months time, the distributors are going to look a lot different to how they look today.

"I haven't sold and have no plans of selling right now. Everything is for sale at the right price, but I'm not that keen to sell. I had an offer last year but turned it down. I'm not ready to get out of it yet." - Fiona Dicker, general manager, Dicker DataAchieva Technology Australia distributes as a local subsidiary for its Singapore-based parent company.

"We have no strategic alliances and any plans to merge or acquire would depend on our parent company. So far the major acquisitions going on have been of companies operating in a different market segment to us."

- Stephen Lee, executive director, Achieva Technology AustraliaDigiland is the Australian operation of Singapore-based Asian distributor GES Group that listed for the first time last week on the Singapore stock exchange. It distributes mainly GES-manufactured hardware, but has recently expanded its assembly operations.

"If anything is to be done in Australia, Digiland will be enhancing its manufacturing facilities here. We have already taken over some staff of the defunct DAT Computers. It was not a buyout, it was not a merger and no money changed hands. It was just simply a matter of knowing the people very well and merging them into our operations."

- Laurie Carmichael, managing director, DigilandAlstom IT, previously I.T. ConnXions, is a global distributor, 48 per cent owned by Alcatel and GEC and 52 per cent publicly owned after its float last year.

"We're not looking for someone to buy us, but we will keep an open mind to acquisitions if the right opportunity came along.

"We're not setting out to be the biggest though, so it wouldn't be to increase size, it would be to add some component of value that we don't already have.

"For example technical support skills are often difficult to find so we mainly look at a company with a pool of people with strong skills."

- Laurie Sellers, chief executive, Alstom AustraliaHardware distributor Express Data has a complex ownership structure. Its major shareholder is South African Dimension Data, but ED's local staff also owns a significant portion of shares.

"Although we don't have a 'For Sale' sign on our door, if someone came along with an attractive proposition, we would most certainly listen to it, yet we are not actively looking for someone as such.

"We have been approached by potential buyers in the past, but I wouldn't like to reveal any names. We are always happy to talk to anybody in the marketplace, be it new vendors, customers, or even potential competitors who are new to the market."

- Ross Cochrane, managing director, Express DataMainly known as an assembler, Edge Technology's business model includes about 40 per cent distribution including Cyrix CPUs.

"At the moment we are not for sale. We have not received any approaches recently but in the past, yes. The last was about 18 months ago but Edge strengthened its own global operations to the size where it is not really a viable way of getting into Australia. It is not an easy entry."

- Peter Lai, vice president, Edge Technology Asia-PacificRecently appointed as a distributor for Intel, locally and privately owned TodayTech Group mixes distribution with OEM assembly.

"In terms of alliances, so far nobody has approached me, nor have I approached anyone else. TodayTech has a unique and dynamic operation, and as a group, it is very healthy. It [any alliance] would depend on TodayTech being able to retain its own culture, and I haven't given the prospect much thought.

"There seems to be a trend towards distributors becoming globalised, but I think Australia still has some very good and healthy local players."

- Jack Zhong, chief executive officer, TodayTech

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