Consolidation among distributors stepped up another gear last week when CHS Electronics agreed terms to buy struggling French company Metrologie in a deal worth more than $80 million.
As exclusively revealed in PC Dealer last week (22 April), CHS bought Metrologie's UK, France and Spanish operations. CHS estimated that when it concludes the deal with venture capitalists Apax Partner & Cie - Metrologie's largest shareholder - $87.7 million will have changed hands.
Metrologie will be run as a wholly owned subsidiary of CHS and be positioned as the distribution arm with expertise in high-end systems. Metrologie's jewel in the crown is its Digital supply agreement, which is expected to be unchanged following the sale.
Commenting on the acquisition, Robert Mountain, chairman of Metrologie, said: 'It is a positive move for us as CHS is a well-run company.'
He admitted that during the next six weeks - in the run-up to shareholder and regulatory approval of the deal - talks will be held over positions.
Mountain - who is contracted to Metrologie and not an employee - was unable to say whether he would remain with the distributor.
Metrologie put itself on the market in March after it conceded it did not have the financial muscle to compete with the bigger players. The distributor has reported losses since 1991 and shed about 1,700 staff, although the distributor estimated it was close to breaking even for the quarter ended 31 March. Metrologie's total sales are projected to exceed $1 billion this year, while CHS' pro-forma sales for 1998 are expected to exceed $7 billion in Europe and $9 billion worldwide.
CHS admitted it was looking for further acquisitions, with the next likely to occur in Italy. The Metrologie acquisition, it claimed, would return it to the number one slot in Europe, a position temporarily lost following US giant Tech Data's $395 million acquisition of Computer 2000 last week.
See news analysis, page 16.
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