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Delayed Ingram Micro sale to Tianjin Tianhai gets green light from US regs

World's largest tech distie still awaiting approval from Chinese authorities

By Paul Kunert, 2 Nov 2016

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has approved the $6bn takeover of Ingram Micro, the world’s largest tech distie, by Chinese shipping magnate Tianjin Tianhai.

The proposed buyout hit the rails earlier this summer when the Shanghai Stock Exchange fired a bunch of financial questions to Tianjin, part of conglomerate HNA Group, which has held up proceedings.

In what seemed to be political gesture, Ingram and its suitor then submitted the deal for scrutiny to the committee. Previously, Ingram said its sale would not fall under the auspices of CFIUS because it was a company merely shifted boxes and did not actually produce technology.

On Tuesday night, Ingram confirmed the companies had "received clearance... to proceed with the transaction". The distributor revealed it had also been given the green light by antitrust authorities in Austria, Italy, Poland and Slovakia.

The US Federal Trade Commission, the Ministry of Commerce (People's Republic of China), as well as competition regulators in Canada, Mexico, India, South Africa and Turkey have already approved the deal.

And Ingram shareholders voted to accept the terms of the buyout in July, despite some sabre-rattling from lawyers who were looking for disgruntled investors that weren't happy with the sale price. No change there then.

The final and perhaps highest hurdle facing the transaction is getting the stamp of approval from China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange. This remains a work in progresss, Ingram confirmed.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange in July had asked Tianhai if the financial outlay and loan repayments would have a "negative impact" on both firms; it also wanted answers as to why Ingram's results turned sour this year.

In Q1, Q2 and Q3 of calendar 2016, Ingram reported declining revenues.

Ingram said it still expects the transaction to be completed this side of New Year, but if the deal goes awry, Tianjin Tianhai has committed to pay Ingram $400m. The cash has already been deposited in Deutsche Bank's Americas business.

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing