Distributor acquisitions are inevitable
The component market has always been dominated by a small group of global distributors.
The multinational’s grip on the market has steadily tightened in the years before and after the 2008/9 market downturn.
Part of this was due to the growth of the catalogue companies driven by an aggressive move to online selling sites.
Then there has been the stream of acquisitions in the last five years. Arguably the buying spree of the global broadliners started with Avnet’s acquisition of Memec in 2005 and may have ended with Arrow’s recent move to buy Nu Horizons.
But the phase of acquisitions in the component distribution market may not yet be over. Such is the pressure on the global broadliners to acquire customers in new markets to sustain their large and costly business structures.
The reason that Arrow is prepared to pay $120m for Nu Horizons is the relatively strong presence that the smaller distributor enjoys in the south east Asian markets
“This acquisition builds on our strategy to expand our global capabilities, especially in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region,” said Michael Long, CEO of Arrow Electronics.
Nu Horizons also has a significant sale operation in the UK and across Europe, and this is important to Arrow as Europe is the second fastest growing components market after China.
There is an inevitable logic in the way the big broadline distributors have steadily eaten up bigger and bigger chunks of the market over the last few years.
Size may not be everything, but it is certainly a significant part of what makes a distributor tick in what is now a global electronics supply chain.
“To compete successfully in today’s global marketplace, size and scale are very important,” said Martin Kent, CEO and president of Nu Horizons.
Kent should know the importance of global reach for a distributor. For years he endeavoured to turn UK-based Abacus into a global distributor, until it was acquired by Avnet two years ago.
But acquisitions are not only driven by a need to build sales. The broadliners use them to acquire technology lines and design-support capability.
That’s what Avnet did with Memec in 2008 and arguably it played a part in Arrow’s move for Nu Horizons last month.
It may have lost the all-important Xilinx FPGA line this year, but it quickly added Lattice Semiconductor and retained its FPGA design support capability.
I has also a strong number of wireless and analogue lines, including Marvell and Linear Technology, which it supports with local sales offices.