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European security distributor ponders Middle East move

One of Europe’s leading IT security distribution companies is exploring the possibility of expanding into the Middle East. ComputerLinks — a Germany-based wholesaler with offices in numerous countries including the US — insists its plans have received the backing of unnamed vendor partners.

One of Europe’s leading IT security distribution companies is exploring the possibility of expanding into the Middle East. ComputerLinks — a Germany-based wholesaler with offices in numerous countries including the US — insists its plans have received the backing of unnamed vendor partners.

ComputerLinks’ admission that it is weighing up entry to the Middle East region came last week when the company published its 2006 financial results. In a brief statement at the end of its annual report, the distributor revealed that it is “assessing opportunities in the Middle East for further market expansion”.

When contacted by Channel Middle East, ComputerLinks CEO and founder, Stefan Link, was unwilling to provide specific details on the plans, but confirmed that the company is currently surveying the landscape for opportunities.

“We have plans to make some investment in the Middle East and that’s all I can tell you,” he said. “I think it’s a very attractive market, which is booming. It is an interesting region and there are a lot of developments happening. I think we have to make a decision [to expand into the market] this year — maybe within three to six months.”

Link admits that ComputerLinks’ motivation for checking out expansion possibilities in the region is “partly” driven by vendor partners who are keen to see the company’s expertise deployed in the region. “The more interesting thing for us is that it is an emerging market,” he said. “But some of the vendors are quite interested that we might come to this area.”

ComputerLinks operates training and professional services divisions as well as e-business and e-security units. Its e-business unit is built around vendors such as ADIC, Citrix, Packeteer and Neoware, while its security portfolio encompasses names such as BlueCoat, Fortinet, RSA Security, Sonicwall, Trend Micro and Websense.

Link declined to comment on whether the company is considering potential partnerships or acquisitions as part of its evaluation, citing confidentially due to ComputerLinks’ status as a public company.

Talk of expansion into the Middle East comes after ComputerLinks recently launched a subsidiary in Australia and enjoyed the strongest financial growth in its history. Net profit for 2006 climbed from US$9.3m to US$11.7m year-on-year as group sales for the year increased 42% to US$526m on the same basis.

Gross margins remained level at around 14% while personnel costs and other net operating expenses decreased from 10.7% of sales to 9.9% of sales during the course of the year.

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