Ingram EMEA chief on M&A plans, cloud, value vs volume, and life under HNA

Josh Budd
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Ingram EMEA chief on M&A plans, cloud, value vs volume, and life under HNA

Mark Snider opens up on what life is like under Chinese ownership

Ingram Micro's mammoth $6bn sale to a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate HNA was a 10-month rollercoaster of shareholder lawsuits, regulatory probing and stock exchange investigations.

Finally concluding in December last year, Ingram has now spent more than five months under private ownership

The interest of Chinese firms in buying US-based companies has always been something that has stirred unrest among US institutions. One only has to think of Huawei's failed acquisitions of 3Com and 3Leaf, blocked by the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Speaking to CRN sister pubilcation Channelnomics Europe, Ingram Micro EMEA chief Mark Snider (pictured) - who was appointed last year after the departure of European leader Gerhard Schulz - said that life under HNA will see the world's largest distributor be as aggressive as ever both in terms of organic and acquisitive growth.

"I get asked a lot by customers about the HNA acquisition, [about] being owned by this new company as opposed to being a public company. Definitely from a customer and vendor perspective, they are seeing us be aggressive and leaning towards growth," he said.

Snider stressed that the culture and strategic direction of Ingram Micro has changed little in its time under new ownership, claiming that HNA always intended to keep Ingram's leadership team in place.

"Definitely for Ingram Micro, our name is staying the same, our CEO is the same. When they did the deal that was how they wanted to run us. They said they wanted us to run with the same strategy that we always had… Internally the culture and feel of the company has been exactly the same. The difference is, with the acquisition behind us and with the leadership for EMEA, we are the global leader and we should be growing in all of these markets and be significantly more aggressive in the competition," he said.

"They have an HNA person on the board but they really bought us, not to integrate as part of their technology, they bought us because they believe in the revenue that we get obviously from a global perspective and also the vision we have for the future, things like cloud, which they knew was a good investment from their perspective."

The deal was largely responsible for the world's largest IT distributor posting a $34.65m net loss for its fourth financial quarter ending 31 December 2016. Ingram incurred a further $39m in merger and acquisition costs for its first quarter of this year ending 1 April. Yet, according to Snider, further costs related to the acquisition will not continue to weigh upon Ingram's profits going forward.

"I think Q1 was double-digit growth on a global basis. Profitability was good. We don't do forward looking, but I think... Q1 was a strong quarter for us, so there will be no hangover effect from that at all," he said.

"You are not going to see a huge change from a strategy standpoint. So with that there is very little distraction and I think from our perspective we already wanted to be more aggressive in the marketplace."

Putting M&A on the table

Ingram has maintained a steady pace of M&A activity throughout 2016 and going into this year. The firm made three acquisitions in 2016 in the shape of UK channel networking and server services firm Comms-care, cloud distributor Ensim and Auckland-based firm Connector Systems. This year, Ingram has already bought NIT, a Dubai-based physical security distributor covering the Middle East and Africa.

Snider said that under HNA Ingram's will maintain an active M&A strategy.

"That is one thing that seems to be in the DNA of HNA, they are acquisitive and definitely in that mode of thinking, and I think, for us, that fits right into our plans both in EMEA and globally.

"Some of our recent acquisitions have been in speciality technology, in services and in physical security… but all acquisition targets would be on the table when it comes to our relationship with HNA."

Click through to page two to read Snider's thoughts on the changing competitive landscape among the big four, and Ingram's cloud proposition

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