Ingram CEO touts flexibility in HNA deal

Alain Monié, CEO of Ingram Micro

Alain Monié, CEO of Ingram Micro

PHOENIX — Ingram Micro’s impending acquisition by China-based HNA Group will allow the distributor more flexibility and speed in making investments, particularly in key growth areas like cloud, the distributor’s CEO says.

Speaking as a guest speaker during Ingram cloud boss Renée Bergeron’s show-opening keynote during the distributor’s Cloud Summit 2016 event here, Alain Monié said he “only [sees] positive changes” as a result of deal.

In February, Tianjin Tianhai Investment Company announced a $6 billion deal to purchase Ingram, a move which will make the distributor part of Tianjin Tianhai’s largest investor, HNA Group, a logistics and transports organization with a variety of holdings, ranging from ownership of involvement with a number of Chinese airlines to shipbuilding and cargo transport. Monié described HNA as a company that “comes from the logistics side, and is looking tat evolving towards these types of solutions” that Ingram is promoting with cloud and other high-value technologies.

“Being part of a group that is investing in these technologies means we will be able to accelerate all these investments and we’ll have additional flexibility to make these investments ourselves,” Monié told the 1300-plus attendees of Cloud Summit Tuesday morning. “[HNA Group is] seeing that we’re getting into a much more interesting type of IT involvement.”

Ingram Canada chief executive Mark Snider told Monday it’s very much business as usual for the distributor’s Canadian operations, but echoed the comments Monié made Tuesday about the flexibility that being part of HNA should afford Ingram. Snider said the example of Ingram’s acquisition of Ensim, announced last week, as evidence that the company is still investing in building out its cloud story even as the wheels turn on the acquisition.

Ensim, based in Santa Clara, Cal., is a distributor of cloud applications, is privately-held, and its acquisition by Ingram is expected to close in the next 30 days, much faster than the HNA deal for Ingram, which is expected to close sometime in the second half, presuming regulatory approvals.

Neither executive touched on the must-discussed security concerns aspect of the deal. While some analysts have said Ingram being sold to a Chinese company would not raise alarm bells because it is a distributor and not a manufacturer, and most of the products sold through it do not go to high-security customers, there have been some cases of U.S. regulations putting the kibosh on Chinese companies purchasing U.S.-based companies in certain niches. Just days before the Ingram deal was announced, Fairchild Semiconductor announced it was rejecting an offer from a pair of Chinese companies due to concerns the deal would not win the approval of U.S. regulators.

Monié did stress that he and his leadership team will remain in place going forward — something he says HNA insisted upon to make the deal — and that the distributor will retain its headquarters in California.

“It’s the same leadership, but with a different ownership that provides a greater flexibility to invest,” Monié said.