Avnet chief executive Roy Vallee has brushed off industry concerns about the integration of Bell and has revealed that the UK business was a major reason for the acquisition.
Vallee said he had known Bell chief executive Don Bell since the 1970s, and has been conversing with him for the past decade about an acquisition, which finally became reality yesterday after the firm was acquired for $594m (£394m) including debt.
“Once Bell got its financials stated and became relisted – for me the opportunity became much more obvious, and that was when we escalated the dialogue,” Vallee said.
He also refuted claims that Avnet had paid too much for Bell.
“On price, we understand that there are many different ways to value transactions and for the past nine-plus years, we have been focused on a concept called value-based management – return on capital for value being the most important metric,” he said. “There is so little interest coming in on cash and the issue is, in the long term, will the combination of the companies produce return on capital? The answer is yes. One of the most prized assets of Bell is the UK business – we love its datacentre business and embedded system business.”
Vallee said software is an important part of the future for Avnet and it will be keeping Bell’s volume software business.
“We have a pretty significant software practice to date. We concentrate on the value-added solution and are not as focused on the fulfilment/commodity type devices. From our perspective in round numbers, Bell is 60 per cent value added and 40 per cent traditional distribution,” he said.
He added that the integration of two large companies is something Avnet is used to.
“We have done integrations of that size before – for example when we acquired Memec we had interests in every region of the world,” he said. “We have a process that we developed starting back in the early 1990s. We document the process fully. We will create integration project teams and embrace the mantra of best people and places. Between now and closing, our goal is to complete the integration planning process, then once the transaction has closed we are in a position to begin.”
He said he hopes to complete the integration process within a year following the deal.
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