Skillsgroup's high-end Hewlett Packard workstation arm, PSL, is understood to be up for sale as the distribution outfit does not fit in with its services strategy.
Speculation has been mounting that Skillsgroup would offload PSL after the company sold its desktop business, P&P, for #11.5 million in January so that it could concentrate solely on its services business via its Acuma operation (PC Dealer, 14 January).
According to several channel sources, it was understood that Skillsgroup chairman David Southworth had indirectly approached a number of distributors with a view to buying the PSL business.
It was estimated that the business would be sold at between #20 million and #30 million.
PSL's jewel in the crown is its supply agreement with Hewlett Packard for its high-end workstations, which the distributor has held on to for a number of years. Observers commented that PSL had built up strong relationships with a number of resellers over HP's Unix business.
One source said: 'PSL was never really part of Skillsgroup's strategy.
It will be sold off to build a war chest for the Acuma user business.'
The candidates shortlisted as possible purchasers are CHS Electronics and Tech Data. Ingram Micro was ruled out because the distributor already has a relationship with HP for its workstations.
David Reese, analyst at Skillsgroup's brokers Panmure Gordon, said: 'There's nothing to suggest it will happen in the short term, but that's not to say it won't happen. I would dampen down the rumours if I were you.'
Mike Kontowtt, PSL divisional director, would not confirm or deny that a sale was imminent. 'As a Plc, it is impossible for me to comment on whether or not PSL is for sale,' he said.
Kontowtt added: 'Since the P&P sale, people have been speculating about the PSL, saying it doesn't sit well with Skillgroup's strategy. It is my understanding that, for the moment, PSL is part of Skillsgroup.'
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