Gateway 2000 founder Ted Waitt walked away from a $7 billion merger offer from Compaq, only hours before he was due to sign the agreement.
According to a report in 'Time' magazine, the deal collapsed last month because Waitt realised that he did not want Compaq chief Eckhard Pfeiffer - or any one - to be his boss.
Waitt would have been richer to the tune of $3 billion if he had accepted Compaq's offer, worth 46 per cent more than Gateway's current market capitalisation.
The collapsed deal represents a lost opportunity for Compaq to take on arch-rival Dell in the direct market. Last month, the company also approached Micron Technology, a fast growing US direct sales vendor, with a view to acquisition.
Compaq operates a direct selling operation in the US, which accounts for 10 per cent of American sales. The company has also announced its intention to open a direct sales operation in Scotland this autumn, which will target the so-called micro-business sector (companies with one to nine employees).
Many Compaq resellers have expressed alarm at the vendor's historic switch away from its channel-only sales policy.
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