By Doug Woodburn
In selling up pretty much bang on VADition's fifth birthday, channel entrepreneurs Neil Ledger and Ian Morris have stuck to the pattern they established with their two previous distribution ventures.
The duo jetted off to Paris last night to ink a deal with their new Gallic owner, Exclusive Networks.
VADition's sale comes almost exactly five years after the distributor launched with its ‘virtual vendor' model. Since then it's made rapid progress, hitting (unaudited) sales of £33.8m in the year to May 2011.
Ledger and Morris' two previous disti outfits, Data Connectivity and equIP, were, similarly, built up and sold over the course of six and five years, respectively, so it's little wonder speculation about a VADition sale has been building all year.
Exclusive Networks was known to be one of a number of suitors in the frame and it is rumoured the duo came very close to a deal back in April.
It may come as a relief to some of the distributor's staff that VADition was not chomped up by one of the big US-based goliaths, but rather, a regional player with a similar focus on making markets for emerging vendors.
An executive at one of said global distis admitted as much when I asked him for his reaction to the deal.
VADition works with fast-growing, but ultimately small or mid-sized vendors (Fortinet, Palo Alto and Infoblox being prime examples) and the distribution executive admitted that such franchises may get lost in among the massive A-brand contracts of a global distributor. After all, the channel is littered with examples of big broadliners that have bought niche distributors only to then suck all value out of their conquest.
Exclusive Networks secured new private equity investment from Crédit Agricole last year, meaning it is likely the group will look for an exit itself in two to four years' time. In that period - and with the help of VADition's management - it will look to grow to become Europe's undisupted independent VAD heavyweight.
Only time will tell if it will then make a heartier meal for one of the market's giants.
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