The Italian operation of troubled Olivetti Computers Worldwide (OCW) has filed for bankruptcy, plunging the supply of PC and servers to the UK channel into doubt after production was suspended.
OCW's Italian arm - OP Computers - was forced to come out from court protection after an MBO deal, brokered to rejig equity stakes within the company, was aborted (PC Dealer 3 March).
As a result of the bankruptcy, PC production in Italy stalled again, with hopes of it being resumed in June, pending a revised deal. Negotiations are under way for trustees of the bankrupt company to transfer the assets of OP Computers into a recently formed company called EuroComputers.
EuroComputers has been set up by three members of the OP Computers management team and has also licensed the Olivetti trademark from the Italian telecoms giant that sold the PC division in 1997 to Piedmont International.
If the revised deal goes through, Olivetti Eurocomputers will take over the manufacturing and sales operations of OP Computers, and Piedmont will continue to own OCW assets outside Italy.
But the supply of hardware to the UK channel is dependent on the proposed deal. Distributors and resellers that are already suffering from shortages that arose from the earlier supply interruptions, could face further problems if supply is not resumed next month.
Ian Davidson, UK marketing manager for OCW said: 'There is product in the channel, but not enough to see it through if production doesn't resume.' He added OCW in the UK was 'evaluating the possibility of alternative suppliers'.
Sources close to the original deal said it was aborted because Edward Gottesman, US financier and founder of OCW's holding company Piedmont International, did not agree to the terms of the proposed MBO. The agreement stipulated that Piedmont reduce its 80 per cent stake in OCW to 35 per cent.
Meanwhile, Piedmont has filed a suit against Olivetti Group, former owners of OCW, for L374 billion, claiming it gave false information on the unit's financial status.
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