Speculation that Olivetti was to sell its PC business to Acer was firmly quashed by the Taiwanese manufacturer last weekend, close on the heels of more boardroom changes at the Italian company.
Acer denied reports it was interested in buying the PC division, valued at around the #300 million mark. Nor, said a senior official at Acer, had it discussed the matter with Olivetti. Last week, Paul Mahoney, managing director at Olivetti UK, said that, despite rumours, NEC was also not a candidate to take over the business, up for sale before the end of the year.
As strikes continued at Olivetti?s PC plant last Friday, in protest at the planned sell-off, pressure from foreign investors forced the company to announce four non-executive bankers to the board, only one of whom was previously connected with the company.
Darlo Trevisan, a lawyer, will act to represent the interests of UK and US banking investors, including Barings Asset Management and pension funds. Other appointments include Gerard Worms, head of French Banque Rothschild, and Gordon Owen, former senior executive at Mercury. The fourth, Bruno Lamborghini, used to work for Olivetti and is a deputy chairman of Olivetti Telemedia.
The moves are intended to deflect criticism away from Carlo de Benedetti, who is still connected to Olivetti. His firm Cir owns 15 per cent and his son, Rudolfo, is one of the full quorum of 17 members on the board.
The changes and continuing speculation at Olivetti did nothing to restore confidence on the Italian stock market. Shares fell to their record low of 466 lire.
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