Speculation has sky-rocketed over the future of RBR, after South African-based DataTec was tipped to buy the company, throwing the distributor's Cisco-only agreement into doubt.
The proposed acquisition comes at the same time as Info'Products' future has been called into question, after it emerged that GE Capital has renewed its interest in purchasing the troubled reseller.
Rumours were further heightened by the release of non-disclosure letters to Info'Products' vendors, unveiling plans by the US giant to buy the reseller.
Meanwhile, it is understood RBR and DataTec are on the verge of entering due diligence with an official announcement expected within the next two months.
Jens Montanana, chairman of DataTec, confirmed he had looked at RBR six weeks ago, but said: 'We passed on it and are not going to buy the distributor.
However, we are working on two other acquisitions.'
However, when asked to categorically deny the claim, Montanana said: 'Things are still swirling around at the moment.'
Rory Sweet, joint MD of RBR, denied the company would be bought by acquisitive distributor DataTec, but conceded: 'We have been approached by CHS among others and were made an offer, but we couldn't agree terms.'
RBR was appointed a Cisco-only distributor in October after a tempestuous relationship, during which the company was reselling the vendor's products (PC Dealer, 1 October 1997).
Richard Bradley, channel sales director of Cisco, said: 'I do not want to speculate. RBR is still being run by both managing directors and the investment bankers.'
He added: 'When and if this happens, we will act accordingly.'
Bradley refused to comment on the effect a buyout would have on the vendor's agreement with the distributor but had previously said the vendor would take action if an acquisition happened.
Meanwhile, the expected purchase of Info'Products follows the revelation that the reseller had accumulated losses of over #10 million during the period from 1996 to 1997 (PC Dealer, 29 April).
A source said: 'I'd be surprised if there wasn't anything going on between the companies.' He added: 'From a KNP BT shareholder perspective, it would make sense.'
Stating it would be a good move for both sides, Alex Pidgley, Toshiba marketing programs manager, said: 'Info'Products has lost its way recently, but the right cash injection will help it find its feet again.'
Vince Smith, IBM marketing programs manager, said: 'I don't believe customers are suffering due to current market consolidation.'
Joe Hermani, chairman of distributor Westcoast, said: 'GE is trying to expand its European presence, but I expect later it will centralise operations.' He added: 'Companies can't have all the pieces in place at once and have to concentrate on the big picture.'
Info'Products and GE Capital were unavailable for comment.
October 96 DataTec formed from Data Guardian, Volante Distribution and Inform Training
July 97 Logical Networks Plc bought for #25 million, with a combination of cash and shares for 100 per cent equity
October 97 Bluepoint acquired for #7 million, plus a further #11 million dependent on reaching targets
February 98 DataTec bought a 50 per cent stake
in The Web Factory and acquired Training Solution, Vircom and Scantech
April 1996 Ferntree Corporation
July 1996 Compunet
July 1996 Ameridata UK
April 1997 Launched additional GE Capital Information Technology Solutions
May 1997 CPC Si
June 1997 Management Data Systemhaus
June 1997 Systems International
November 1997 Nicom
January 1998 Skillsgroup's dealer arm P&P.
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