M&A activity gathers pace as 2007 closes

M&A activity gathers pace as 2007 closes

Rock and Tekdata sell up as tech sector consolidation rears its head again

The year has ended in the same consolidatory vein as it began, with two established channel names selling up to international companies.

While system builder Rock has sold a majority stake to US-listed mobile technology firm Roc, security distributor Tekdata confirmed it has been acquired by Micro Peripherals (Micro-P).

Roc has acquired a 51 per cent stake in Rock, with the duo agreeing to share expertise in IPTV, place shifting, mobile internet and mobile entertainment platforms.

Nick Boardman, who founded Rock in 1992, said: “While we are one of the last men standing in the system builder space and are doing okay, the market is not getting any easier. Rather than trying to fight it and stay independent, we wanted to partner with someone that could add value to our company.”

Boardman said the pair would launch their first jointly developed product - an ultra-mobile PC incorporating 3G technology – in March.

“The deal may not make sense now, but two years down the road the rationale will become clear,” he said.

Meanwhile, SonicWall distributor Tekdata also got in on the act by selling up to Micro-P – a unit of Dublin-listed DCC Group.

Keith Bird, vice president of EMEA at SonicWall, said: “This enables Tekdata to take the business to the next level. All Tekdata’s management will still be there. It will be business as usual, but with the added benefit of a bigger company behind them.”

Peter Rowell, executive director at analyst Regent Associates, said: “It looked like the number of deals in the European tech market was drifting downwards in the second quarter and Q3, but it does seem that Q4 will be back up to 800 deals.”

Alastair Edwards, senior analyst at market watcher Canalys, said: “There was probably a hiatus [in M&A] when people were trying to work out if the credit crunch would impact IT buying confidence. But this may have been just a short-term thing if IT spending has not decreased and the cost of borrowing has not gone up.”