Packard Bell Sale: NEC exits European Markets

img PB photo I don’t like to write obituaries but with this news I’m not completely sure what it might mean. After Packard Bell has pulled the plug in 1999 and exited the US retail market together with laying off almost 80% of its staff we now are hearing that NEC is getting rid off Packard Bell BV that sells PCs and consumer electronics to Europe, Middle East, Africa and South America (did I miss a continent, yes they don’t sell to APAC and we mentioned the US before).
When you have a look at PBs web site there can’t be any problems: Its all about rock-solid foundations, no 3 in PC sales in Europe (it must be years that I’ve seen a Packard Bell PC in any shop, but then you know…), bright future and unique business model.
…NEC’s focus has been going more towards the enterprise market so we decided it’s in the best interests of Packard Bell and NEC to sell the company,” said Diane Foley, an NEC spokeswoman in Tokyo…
Now NEC Corp. has sold its Packard Bell BV unit to …companies controlled by John Hui, the former owner of e-Machines…

Lets go back a bit in time before looking at the deal made here.

Packard Bell was an American radio manufacturer, founded in 1933, in Los Angeles, that later became a defense contractor and manufacturer of other consumer electronics, such as television sets. The company was acquired in 1968 by Teledyne (you remember that name don’t you?). In 1986, a group of investors bought the Packard Bell’s name from Teledyne and recreated it as a manufacturer of low-cost personal computers.

Now some citings from Wikipedia on Packard Bell at that time.

…The computers, among the first IBM PC compatibles sold in retail consumer electronics chains – such as Sears – soon became popular. However, they also gained a reputation for poor quality, a reputation that worsened in 1995 when it was accused of recycling used parts in PCs that it sold as new… and it goes on…

…Packard Bell sometimes benefited from misplaced name recognition, with consumers (especially first-time computer buyers) and even some salespeople erroneously associating the company with others of similar name, such as Hewlett-Packard, Packard, Pacific Bell, and Bell Laboratories…

So now, 20 years later, does history repeat itself again? We have a Chinese Investor who buys a company (?name) and most likely wants to use the consumer recognition of that name / company to brand a line of computer products.

But this is not the 90ies where big banks and other organizations are tied in by framework agreements with single brands to buy equipment only from them, its a different time and game. So different rules apply. But we don’t know the terms of the deal. I’ve heard of other deals being done in different businesses for a symbolic value and loss cover to some extend. But I don’t want to compare those with the PB – NEC – Hui deal. So I’m still not sure if that’s an obituary or a new start. But does this actually matter in this case anymore….

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