HPs ProCurve Sale Rumors Leave VARs Wary

If the Ethernet network unit is sold, resellers will have to decide whether to stand by their brand.

Since rumors hit the channel that Hewlett-Packard was seeking buyers for ProCurve, its Ethernet switching unit, resellers of the solution have been taking a wait-and-see approach.

Hewlett-Packard Co. declined to comment on the reported sale, word of which first surfaced in the Aug. 16 issue of BusinessWeek magazine, but channel partners of the Palo Alto, Calif., company said the news was something they would keep in focus in coming weeks, as a change in ownership could change their relationship with the product.

"We have a lot of faith in the HP brand," said Brent Besonson, a technology business consultant at Net Xperts Llc., Pittsburgh. "That wouldnt necessarily change if they sold the company, but I would think about it."

Besonson said he doubts the rumors are true.

Even if the sale occurs, it does not necessarily mean trouble for resellers, said Allison Daylong, an account representative at Network Technologies Inc., Lenexa, Kan.

"Not every sale turns bad," she said. "Look at the IBM Lenovo sale; everyone was pretty pleased with that."

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According to BusinessWeek, which cited anonymous sources involved in the process, the sale could occur within the next two to three weeks, to Francisco Partners of Menlo Park, Calif. Francisco Partners also declined to comment.

HPs newly installed president and CEO, Mark Hurd, has said he intends to restructure the company to improve efficiency and focus on HPs core business. The company will ultimately cut 14,500 jobs or 10 percent of its workforce, and dissolve its Customer Solutions Group sales units. HPs third quarter earnings report released last week showed a $73 million profit, compared to $586 million in the same period a year earlier.

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