This Week in Imaging: Does Newly Expanded Xerox-HP Partnership Hint at Something More?
The most interesting – and perhaps game-changing – news this week was Xerox and HP Inc.’s announcement that they had expanded their business partnership, with, among other things, Xerox to sell select Xerox-branded HP A4 and A3 printers and copiers sourced from HP and based on Samsung technology, as well as HP PCs and accessories, with Xerox becoming an HP DaaS (Device as a Service) partner.
The expanded partnership could simply be an expanded partnership, but there’s also the possibility that it might lead to something more. According to a lawsuit filed by Xerox investor Darwin Deason at one point, an un-named company inquired about purchasing Xerox just about the time former Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson was finalizing the now-scuttled deal with Fujifilm. That suitor has long been rumored to have been HP. Xerox’s recent transition to a holding company, a move said to make it easier to sell parts of a company, might also mean Xerox management is getting ready for HP to acquire Xerox, or parts of it.
For HP, key among those benefits would be expanded distribution through Xerox Business Solutions (previously known as Global Imaging Systems). HP could also take advantage of Xerox’s leadership position in the managed print service markets. And both companies would achieve economies of scale – not to mention that both are U.S.-based and share the same language and culture. And of course, PC and printer acquisitions are nothing new for HP. Throughout its history, HP has made a number of key PC and printing acquisitions, including Indigo, Compaq, 3Com, and of course, Samsung’s printer business. One thing that may deter HP however is price, as the proposed Fujifilm deal would have seen Xerox sold for $6.1 billion – a price Icahn and Deason said was too low. In contrast, HP paid a lot less – $1.05 billion – for Samsung’s printer business. HP has also had its share of acquisitions that did not work out well – most notably, Compaq and Autonomy, with Palm also deserving a mention – that, along with the internal turbulence Xerox has been undoubtedly experiencing since Icahn came along – may make HP think twice. But the printer/copier industry has had many mergers and acquisitions, some very surprising – who for instance would ever have guessed that Sharp Electronics would have been purchased by Foxconn, or that Lexmark would be purchased by Apex International? Seen from that perspective, the merger of two American printer giants wouldn’t be that surprising.
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