Distributors we spoke with say the deal "demonstrates the value of distribution." The impact remains to be seen.

Christine Horton, Contributing Editor

March 23, 2021

4 Min Read

Distributors in Europe are reacting positively to the news of Tech Data merging with Synnex.

Announced Monday, the $7.2 billion merger will create a combined company with $57 billion in estimated pro forma annual revenues. It will serve customers in more than 100 countries worldwide.

European distributors say they recognise the importance of the deal, and that it highlights the value of distribution. However, they question how much the merger will impact EMEA. Tech Data is the much stronger player in the region, whereas Synnex has little presence comparatively. Conversely, Synnex is big in Japan.

“We are similar in a lot of ways without a lot of overlap,” Bob Stegner, ‎SVP of marketing, North America, at ‎Synnex, said yesterday.

Important Move

Alex Tatham, managing director, West Coast, said the merger was “an important move that spectacularly demonstrates the value of distribution.”

But, he added: “Synnex is very much the nimble player in the U.S., but there will be little impact on Tech Data in Europe. It’s unlikely to help speed up Tech Data’s business with a little more internalising and cost reductions. It makes lots of sense for both companies, though — it’s a great deal.”


Westcon Comstor’s David Grant

David Grant, CEO, Westcon-Comstor agreed. Westcon’s owner, Datatec, closed the sale of its Americas business to Synnex for $800 million nearly four years ago. As part of the deal, Synnex also acquired a 10% stake in Westcon’s EMEA and APAC business.

“The deal represents a significant further wave of interest from private equity investing in the distribution sector,” said Grant.

“Our own performance in fiscal year 2021 in the face of disruptions demonstrates that distributors still have a very significant role to play in creating and realising value in the IT ecosystem,” he added. “This is recognised by the investment community as a strategic opportunity for strong potential returns while reinforcing the need for innovative, value-creating distributors like Westcon International to offer choice, flexibility and focus to the channel.

“As far as the specifics of the deal are concerned, once it’s completed, the focus of the new merged business will be the Americas, meaning it’s of little consequence to our continued growth and success in our target markets.”

On Synnex’s stake in Westcon International, Grant said it was specifically designed to be no more than 10%. This was “to allow them to account for it as an investment and not as a shareholder of influence.

“They have no rights associated to this shareholding, and in fact in our most recent capital raise last year, Synnex diluted it to 8%. Their investment position affords them no control or influence on our business,” he noted.

Elsewhere, Michael O’Hara, managing director, DataSolutions, says the merger is affirmation of the critical role that distributors play in the channel.

“The merger is a real public affirmation that distributors do play, and will continue to play, a key role in the supply chain of IT technologies — from vendors through to reseller partners and down to end user corporates.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this merger. For all us smaller distributors, it highlights the possible similar opportunities that can come our way if we continue to invest and grow our businesses. Very positive news indeed.”

Distribution in the Driver’s Seat

Synnex contends that until the merger moves forward, it’s business as usual for the disties.

The company said early feedback from vendors was positive. This is because the combination will offer vendors more breadth and better reach while providing more access to credit for solution providers.

For any channel players worried about a monopoly, Forrester analyst Jay McBain posted that the distributors “are not the only route to market.”


JS Group’s Janet Schijns

“Marketplaces, PLG, and DTC will grow as competition and keep these companies lean and mean,” said McBain.

Elsewhere, Janet Schijns, CEO of channel consultancy JS Group, said the telco channel is “sitting up and taking note” of the merger. This is because of “the impact it can, and will have, on the market.”

She said the rapid expansion of 5G and edge, including IoT solutions, means the time is ripe for distribution to take a driver’s seat in the market. It has an opportunity, she said, to “capture massive share as the world shifts how they capture data, connect people and things, and compute. The playbook for the 5G move is not yet written in stone. The growth potential for telco channels is immense and now there is a new player built on two trusted distributors on the board. The industry awaits the next move.”

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About the Author(s)

Christine Horton

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Christine Horton writes about all kinds of technology from a business perspective. Specializing in the IT sales channel, she is a former editor and now regular contributor to leading channel and business publications. She has a particular focus on EMEA for Channel Futures.

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