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Robert Trigaux

Tech Data Corp. a target of computer hardware giants? Just talk -- but what talk



Wake up and good morning.
What if we all woke up one morning and learned Florida's biggest public company -- Clearwater's Tech Data Corp. -- was in play? Maybe it's not quite as absurd as we once thought. The stock's been on a tear, rising from its 52-week low of $14.14 to start today at $43.40. That's a rocket and industry observers are noticing the sharp rebound.

But what's notable is a recent video segment from in which Tech Data is prominently discussed -- speculation only -- as a potential takeover target by a larger computer hardware company. Why? As commentators see it, hard-pressed hardware companies are looking to diversify their holdings. Two recent deals -- Xerox buying Affiliated Computer Services and Dell buying Perot Systems -- are sparking a herd theory that more deals could be in the works

The video report -- here it is -- says Tech Data could fit in "someone else's" portfolio. The report also cites Tech Data's strong bump in share price and remarks on the uptick in selling off of shares by insiders at the company.

Two other computer service companies -- Accenture and Tata Communications -- round out the video segment's trio of possible takeover targets that will be "on their radar."

Just to be crystal clear, this is just speculative talk. But it's interesting. And if it were to happen -- IF Tech Data were to be acquired by a larger computer hardware company -- what would that mean for the Tampa Bay business community, or Florida, for that matter?

Cristtechdatasept.09 Tech Data is this state's biggest company by revenues -- roughly $21 billion annually. It used to compete with AutoNation of Fort Lauderdale for that prize but the giant car retailer's been blown out of the competition by the recession and the flailing auto industry. Publix Super Markets of Lakeland is still a hearty competitor in revenues with Tech Data but it is not a publicly traded company.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (see photo) made a stop at Tech Data last month and spoke to 150 of the company’s managers and senior executives at their quarterly meeting. (Photo courtesy of Tech Data.)

Let's cut to the chase. Tampa Bay and Florida need Tech Data to remain independent. Tech Data is a sophisticated, international computer parts distributor/integrator, which frankly sounds more compelling (with all due respect to Publix and AutoNation, two quality organizations) in the 21st century global competition race than having Florida industry topped by a chain of grocery stores or auto dealerships. This much we know: The state needs a corporate base of its own and what it has now is puny.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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