Tongues were wagging in the channel last week following the announcement that Westcoast chairman Joe Hemani will take up the reins of distributor Actebis tomorrow.
The deal includes an option for Hemani to gain partial ownership of the company, which at present belongs to The Otto Group. Current Actebis chairman Michael Urban will leave "to pursue new challenges outside the group".
However, the companies, both major Hewlett Packard distributors, were staying tight-lipped about Hemani's plans for Actebis.
Roger Mather, managing director of Actebis Distribution UK, said the two firms will work side by side in the UK, because their product offerings don't overlap. "From a strategic point of view this makes a massive amount of sense," he said.
The move has been met with surprise across the industry. One source close to Actebis said the move had been backed by HP to establish its own direct distribution chain in Europe. HP was unavailable for comment.
An anonymous source said: "Actebis is much bigger than the sort of player I thought Westcoast would go for."
Rachel Power, analyst at Canalys, said: "Actebis has not been performing as well as people expected, and it doesn't fit with Otto's strategy.
"Rather than expand organically Hemani wants to expand through acquisition and gain a European presence that way."
Ian French, president of Bell Microproducts Europe, said: "It seems a logical step because companies are no longer guaranteed to survive because they are big.
Actebis has been sick for some time now and manufacturers and banks are not going to support companies that are struggling. It is going to be an exciting winter for distribution."
Tony Stirrup, managing director of Magirus, said: "This does not affect us because we focus more on value than volume, so our paths don't really cross. But it hasn't come as a surprise."
Infrastructure provider says international sales now make up 51 per cent of its revenue
Suzanne Chappell of TMS plans sailing venture after selling Oxfordshire-based TMS to acquisitive Chess
Withdrawal of credit insurance by some providers a 'reflection' of current challenge facing IT sector, according to MD Steve Soper
SMART's UK managing director joins Lenovo to boost SMB business