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Lenovo in talks over possible acquisition

12 декабря 2008

Lenovo, the world’s fourth-largest personal computer maker, on Thursday said it was in talks over a possible acquisition after its shares jumped on speculation of a deal.

“The directors confirm that the company has certain preliminary discussions with independent third parties regarding potential investments opportunities and acquisitions,” the Chinese company said , without naming potential acquisition targets. The move comes as Lenovo attempts to reduce its over-reliance on corporate business, which has been hit hard by the global economic crisis.

An acquisition would also help Lenovo from falling further behind Acer, the Taiwanese rival that became the world’s third-biggest PC maker following its acquisition of Gateway last year.

There has been speculation that Lenovo could be talking to Positivo Informática, Brazil’s largest PC maker.

Alan Cardoso of Ágora, a brokerage in Rio de Janeiro, said Positivo’s controllers, who have broad interests including education and printing, could be tempted to sell after the company’s market share fell to 23.3 per cent in the third quarter this year from 30.7 per cent a year earlier and its cash flow margin (by the earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation measure) fell to 12.5 per cent from 16.3 per cent under fierce price competition from new entrants.

But he said the controllers were well capitalised and the price they were reportedly willing to sell at, of R$30 a share, was “improbable”.

“Lenovo has said an acquisition target should be in a segment they are not strong in and in a market that they don’t have yet, and Positivo Informática meets these criteria,” said Jenny Lai, CLSA’s PC analyst for Greater China.

William Amelio, Lenovo’s president and chief executive officer, said in November that the company would look for acquisition targets to “gain scale and consolidate the industry”.

However, he said at the time that speculation that the company would buy Fujitsu-Siemens’s PC division were “unfounded”.

Lenovo, which acquired IBM’s PC unit in 2005, saw its net profit drop 78 per cent in the quarter to September 30 and has warned of tougher conditions ahead. By contrast, Taiwan’s Acer bucked the market trend when it said Thursday that it hoped to beat its own earnings targets in the fourth quarter.

Acer said the upbeat forecast was in part due to the fact that it had achieved cost savings through the integration of Gateway and the US’s Packard Bell – both of which it bought late last year.

The Taiwanese company does not publish its profits forecasts but said in October that it expected notebook shipments in the fourth quarter to grow by 20-25 per cent compared with the third quarter.

According to IDC, the market research company, Positivo holds a 20 per cent share of the Brazilian PC market and sells mostly to consumers and to the government – market segments less hit by the global downturn and segments in which Lenovo is weak outside its Chinese home market.

Shares in Lenovo, which jumped 27 per cent in Hong Kong on Wednesday on speculation of a deal, closed down 0.5 per cent at HK$2.18 Thursday.

Источник: Financial Times

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