Share this article

print logo

Ingram Micro sees no downside in sale to Chinese firm

Ingram Micro, one of the Buffalo Niagara region’s largest private employers, says its sale to a Chinese company will have no negative impact on its operations in Amherst.

The information technology products distributor said it didn’t expect any offices to close or consolidate or any layoffs to occur as a result of the merger.

“If anything, we’re going to become part of a larger global conglomeration, and we think that may offer compelling new opportunities for our employees,” said Damon S. Wright, a spokesman for Ingram Micro.

Chinese shipping group Tianjin Tianhai will buy the company for $6 billion, making Ingram Micro a subsidiary of HNA Group, an air transport and logistics company based in Hainan, China. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2016. Ingram Micro employs about 1,500 people locally, according to the most recent figures available.

Wright said Ingram’s current management team and associates were a big part of why Tianjin Tianhai wanted to acquire the company.

“They’re not suddenly swallowing us up and sending their leaders over here to run the business. They don’t have the understanding to run this type of business, because it’s not what they do,” Wright said. “They made it very clear that they want everything to stay the same except they want to provide us the opportunity to do more and do it quicker.”

Alain Monié will stay on as Ingram’s CEO, the company will continue to be run from its California headquarters, and its brand will remain Ingram Micro, even after the deal closes.

James J. Allen, executive director of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, said he believes that the company’s sale is “not necessarily bad news.” He cited the company’s recent investment in the local community, which included an $11 million expansion of its Amherst offices.

Allen had few details but said members of local management told him they’re not concerned about the change in ownership and said it “should be a good thing” for the local operations.

“We’re choosing to be optimistic,” Allen said.

The Amherst Chamber of Commerce is also hopeful about the company’s future here.

Colleen C. DiPirro, president and CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, spoke to officials at Ingram Micro who “seemed very confident that nothing was going to change,” she said.

“They have great productivity here, great growth, they’re firmly embedded in the community, they’ve made a big investment in expanding their infrastructure,” DiPirro said. “I hope we can continue to work with the new ownership so they can see the value of maintaining their facility in Western New York.”

Ingram Micro is one of the world’s largest wholesale providers of technology products and supply chain services, distributing products from such major companies as Apple and Cisco Systems. The local office is the company’s largest East Coast operation and encompasses its customer service, technical support and sales centers. The company’s local operations evolved from Software Distribution Group, founded here in 1982 by Ronald M. Schreiber, Irwin G. Schreiber, Gerald S. Lippes and Paul A. Willax. It was acquired by Ingram Distribution Group in 1985 and later merged with California-based Micro D in 1989.

In 2013, Ingram Micro received $1 million in tax breaks from the Amherst IDA for the construction of its current offices on Wehrle Drive at South Youngs Road.

Tianjin Tianhai bought the company for $38.90 per share, which is 31 percent higher than its latest trading price. Ingram Micro is suspending its quarterly dividend payment and its share repurchase program until the deal is finalized.

The sale left some analysts scratching their heads as to why a Chinese shipping company would buy an electronics distributor only to leave the acquired company intact. But analysts have said the transaction could help Tianjin Tianhai diversify away from China’s slowing economy and hedge against a weakening Chinese currency.