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Computacenter CEO: we'll look to acquire this year

Microscope contributor

Computacenter will use its cash pile to fund acquisitions or return cash to shareholders in the second half of the year, according to chief executive Mike Norris.

The services-based reseller last week updated the City on its financial results for the fourth quarter - the latest in a line of robust numbers of CC - and revealed it was sitting on £138.6m at the end of calendar 2010, up from £86.4m 12 months earlier.

The priority is to upgrade and unify an internal ERP and front-end systems across the UK and Germany by the summer and then turn attentions to potential targets, said long serving head honcho Norris.

"We will certainly look to acquire but that doesn't mean we will; if the right businesses are not available at the right prices we might return some cash to shareholders," he told MicroScope.

The recession provided the catalyst for change at CC as it restructured the business around services. It managed to push up UK services revenues 11% in calendar 2010 (8% across the group) following a modest rise of 2% in the previous year.

Norris said he would "not dare" mimic one-time rival Morse's expansion strategy when it acquired numerous disparate businesses and struggled to integrate them, a story that ultimately ended with Morse running into near terminal financial difficulties.

"I am not going to try and change what it is that Computacenter does through acquisition, I've seen too many companies try to transform their business in that way fail over the years," he said.

The last acquisition activity from CC came in late 2009 when it coughed up £1.8m for German IBM systems house becom Informationssystemme and IBM z-Series integrator Thesaurus.

Alastair Edwards, principal analyst at Canalys, expected CC to make some "volume acquisitions" outside of the UK but added that it could also look to bring on board additional specialist skills in certain areas including the converged data centre.


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