Fujitsu to acquire Siemens' stake in PC venture

Fujitsu will acquire Siemens' stake in their European computer joint-venture, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, the two said Tuesday.

In a widely anticipated move, Fujitsu has agreed to acquire Siemens' stake in their European computer joint-venture, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, the two said Tuesday.

Under the deal Fujitsu will pay approximately Euro 450 million (AUD$838 million) for the 50 percent stake. The deal is scheduled to close on April 1 at which time the company will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujitsu. Until then it will continue to be run as a joint venture.

Fujitsu-Siemens Computers was established in October 1999 and became one of the biggest PC vendors in Europe. Today it operates in 36 countries and in its last financial year rang up sales of Euro 6.6 billion and a pretax profit of Euro 105 million.

But personal computers have been moving towards the periphery of Siemens' operations as it focuses more on energy, industrial and healthcare IT systems.

The joint venture agreement under which the company was run was due to expire in October next year, ten years after the company began operation and earlier this year Siemens began discussions with Fujitsu with a view to ending the partnership.

Those discussions culminated in the deal that was announced Tuesday.

Mid-term prospects for the company are unclear. PC makers operate in a tough and fast moving market but Fujitsu has managed to hold on to a top-two position in Japan for most of the last decade.

In Europe, PC shipments are forecast to continue growing from an anticipated 69 million this year to 91 million in 2012 but new entrants, especially companies like Asustek Computer with its popular Eee PC, are crowding the market and giving more established companies a run for their money.

Fujitsu is considering a major restructuring of Fujitsu-Siemens once the acquisition is complete, according to some press reports, and that drew fierce opposition from Bernd Bischoff, who was CEO of the company until Tuesday. The company said Tuesday that Bischoff had resigned for personal reasons, a sign reports about his disagreement with Fujitsu may have been accurate. Kai FLore, who is currently chief financial officer at the company, will replace Bischoff.

"Fully integrating Fujitsu Siemens Computers into the Fujitsu Group fits perfectly into our global growth strategy," said Kuniaki Nozoe, president of Fujitsu in a statement. "We're inheriting a strong customer base in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and an R&D capability that can support our global products development -- not to mention a tremendously talented group of employees who share our values and commitment to grow with our customers as their trusted business partner."

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Martyn Williams

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