The channel rumour mill was in overdrive last week, with OpenPSL hotly tipped as a target for Bell Microproducts as it ramps up its expansion plans.
Sources said the deal could see Bell, the parent company of Ideal, become a dominant player in the UK high-end server and storage market.
Bell has been on the acquisition trail since October. At the time chief executive Don Bell exclusively told CRN that the firm was "keeping an eye open" for new acquisitions.
But last week, Graeme Watt, newly appointed president of European and Middle East operations at Bell, was unwilling to be drawn further.
"We are definitely looking to grow, and it can be organically or through acquisition," he said. "But when it comes to specific names, we will not comment."
Mike Kantowtt, chief executive of OpenPSL, was also tight-lipped but did not deny the rumours. "We have often been linked with companies looking to buy us. It is inappropriate for me to comment further," he said.
Industry watchers have told CRN that OpenPSL has been seeking a buyer for some time. One source said: "It would make a good fit for Bell/Ideal, as an enterprise arm. It could give Ideal not just a bigger IBM play but also a Hewlett-Packard play."
However, another source said Bell could face competition for OpenPSL, as InTechnology and Magirus had also entered the fray. "The combination of any of these three and OpenPSL would make them the clear leader in server and storage," the source said.
The news comes on the back of Bell's latest financial results. The distributor reported $660m in worldwide turnover for its first quarter 2004, ended 29 March. This 24 per cent increase over the same period last year was coupled with a 22 per cent increase in Europe.
Separately, Seamus Twohig, director of product marketing at Bell Microproducts, has left the company by mutual consent. Watt told CRN that Alex Tatham, vice-president of global software at Bell, will take on Twohig's responsibilities.
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