Could the era of mass reseller consolidation be winding down?
M&A supremo 2e2, for one, has signalled that acquisitions are no longer at the top of its agenda, citing a lack of appetite from the banks in the wake of the double-dip recession.
It will instead look to add to its £400m top line through strategic initiatives, such as its outsourced IT and comms joint venture with O2.
Alongside the likes of Kelway, 2e2 has been one of the industry's most prominent consolidators in recent years. It made 13 acquisitions between its inception in 2002 and 2007, before pulling off a string of blockbuster purchases including Compel, Netstore and Morse.
But 2e2 admits that the banks that fund much of the channel's M& A activity - either directly or indirectly through private equity houses - are no longer as inclined to play ball.
This might explain the lack of big-ticket UK reseller mergers since 2e2 bought Morse for £69.8m two years ago.
"Acquisitions are more difficult in the current environment," the firm's business development director, Nick Grossman, told us. "You need a strong business case, as the banks want to be absolutely sure it is not going to distract you from your existing business plan."
That said, the top VARs remain as under pressure as ever from shareholders to continue growing their sales organically.
And without the recourse to big acquisitions they once had, this must come through strategic initiatives that create a "step change" in revenues, rather than small linear increases, Grossman said.
This may mean that strategic partnerships, such as 2e2's JV with O2, become a more common sight in times to come.
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