Olivetti finally announced the sale of its loss-making PC division early last week, leaving the group free to concentrate on its telecoms activities.
Edward Gottesman, a London-based lawyer behind the Centenary group responsible for the buy-out, announced at a news conference that he was creating a new company, Piedmont, to acquire the PC division.
Gottesman, who believes the PC unit can be turned around, said: "Properly managed and focused, this company can be profitable and competitive".
The deal is worth between 250 billion and 300 billion lire (#96 million and #116 million), with the exact price being finalised when the deal is signed at the end of February. Olivetti will retain a 10% holding in the division.
Piedmont will take on the division's debt of between 100 billion and 200 billion lire and will be granted a licence to use the Olivetti brand name only for PC products and any spin-offs.
According to Gottesman there are no current plans to transfer PC production away from the existing plant in Ivrea, north Italy. Piedmont will operate the PC business through two separate operations, one in Italy for PC production and Italian operations and the other based in the Netherlands for foreign marketing and distribution activities.
Last week Olivetti's chief executive Roberto Colannino, also confirmed the disposal of two non-strategic businesses, Venture Capital USA and Decision System International, raising a further 96 billion lire (u35.2 million) to help finance the company's recovery plans.
Olivetti has managed to get a pretty good price for its troubled PC business following industry speculation that it would be lucky not to have to pay somebody to take the unit off its hands. Despite the sale, financial markets are still very cautious to see if this will mark the turning point that will bring Olivetti back into the black after six years of losses.
Olivetti: a frantic five months
- September 1996
De Benedetti leaves Olivetti board
Debts have doubled in the past two months Olivetti announces the sale of its PC division
Olivetti sold 8% of its stake in Omnitel Executive committee disbanded
Centenary touted as A buyer for the PC division.
Rumours of Mediset buying the whole group.
- January 1997
PC Division sold to Centenary
Venture Capital USA and Decision Systems subsidiaries sold.
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