Lancashire-based Skillsgroup is preparing to sell its P&P desktop business in a historic move away from its reseller roots, paving the way for GE Capital IT Solutions to gain a significant foothold in the UK.
According to sources, David Southworth, Skillsgroup chairman, is understood to be actively hawking the reseller division, which has a turnover of #215 million. One source claimed there was a prospectus available.
One observer said: ?The sale of the P&P business will allow Skillsgroup to concentrate on the more profitable side of the business.?
There was speculation that GE Capital would be the likely candiate to purchase the business, as it needs a well-established reseller to spearhead its UK growth.
P&P Desktop is the biggest but least profitable of Skillsgroup?s branded business divisions, contributing more than half of the group?s 1996 turnover but only a third of profits. Skillsgroup?s other branded business groups, QA Training and Acuma, are more profitable.
The desktop division is one of the UK?s top five resellers, with customers including the BBC, Marks & Spencer and Commerzbank. But last year it lost a longstanding supply contract worth over #10 million a year with Glaxo. Its Scottish arm, Computers for Business, is the third biggest in Scotland, behind Computacenter and Abtex.
The first indications that Southworth was looking to offload the firm?s traditional desktop business came when Skillsgroup changed its name from P&P in February. In recent years, it has been adept at selling volume businesses and buying higher margin subsidiaries.
Patrick Orr, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, Skillsgroup?s broker, declined to comment, citing price-sensitive information. Skillsgroup is in its closed period ? meaning it is forbidden by stock market regulations to discuss anything that could affect the share price.
Southworth refused to comment.
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