The balance of power among UK resellers is expected to shift after US giant GE Capital mounted an attack to gain a stronghold in the market and vowed it would continue its acquisition trail.
US conglomerate GE set up its UK arm, GE Capital IT Solutions, last week using the former Ameridata UK office, which it bought in July 1996. The company, which has been created from acquisitions in the US, Australia, Germany and Canada, had a turnover of $5 billion in 1996.
UK MD Michael Brecht, who formerly headed Compunet, the German arm of GE Capital, said: ?Large, value-added resellers are a priority, but we are also interested in services companies if they fit.?
He added: ?For the first time, the UK channel has a shareholder which is an aggressive investor.? But he admitted that GE lacked a foothold in the corporate market. ?We are looking to acquire companies that fit, that give us the local infrastructure and logistics, but have the size and flexibility to service large accounts.?
Brecht would not reveal which companies are targeted for acquisition, but said they would be ?in the top layer of corporate resellers ? those who have upscaled to provide services?.
He claimed that the company was currently involved in discussions.
Sources have linked GE Capital with Computacenter and Info Products, but both resellers are understood to walked away from a possible deal. While observers have speculated that P&P and Compel would be suitable takeover partners, a deal involving these companies would be complex because both have been floated on the UK stock market.
One observer said: ?GE has to buy someone big and influential but it is questionable as to who can fit this mould and would sell up.?
GE Capital will provide product fulfilment, systems integration, managed services, maintenance and helpdesk support. The UK arm has 300 staff and was looking to take on more staff. There are plans to set up a central helpdesk in Scotland.
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