US distributor giants intensify global fight

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Brightpoint-Brightstar battle for global lead in handset distribution descends into war of words

A fierce war of words broke out last week as the biggest distribution companies on the planet, US firms Brightpoint and Brightstar, laid into each other and disputed their performances and rankings in the sector.

Battle between the two is set to intensify on the continent and in the UK as Brightpoint prepares to follow restructure of the old Dangaard business, which it purchased in 2007, with a new-model offensive, and Brightstar pursues acquisitions in partnership with IT broadliner Tech Data.

Brightpoint founder, chairman and chief executive Robert Laikin (pictured left) said Brightpoint has retained its lead in Europe through acquisition of Dangaard, and that it expects to at least triple its share in the territory by 2014.

He also pointed to Tech Data’s latest results, which said its joint venture with Brightstar in Europe had failed to turn a profit in the first half of 2010. Laikin remarked: “The fact is it lost money. I would question whether the experiment has been successful.”

Brightstar founder, president and chief executive Marcelo Claure told Mobile News: “Brightpoint has had to buy its way to remain competitive and satisfy its shareholders. Our success makes Brightpoint nervous. In its attempts to compete with us, I would question its success in every region – the Americas, Asia Pacific and now Europe.”

Brightstar Europe president Rod Millar said: “Brightpoint is frustrated by our success in Europe, which has been achieved by our laser focus on delivering profitable growth. Brightpoint’s lack of success in Europe with its purchase of Dangaard has resulted in a $325.9 million impairment charge.”

Laikin responded: “If competitors call it ‘destroying’ Dangaard, I call it a success. The recession started within three months of the acquisition and through it we retained our position.”

Laikin spoke with Mobile News exclusively of Brightpoint’s ambitious plan to reinvent distribution in Europe. The firm handles 33 per cent of devices sold in the US, and expects to handle 15-20 per cent of devices in Europe and the UK by 2014.

“There is a huge initiative in the US to have all of these advanced services across Europe. We will have them in the UK within a year.”

Exclusive four-page interview with Brightpoint founder, chairman and chief executive Robert Laikin in latest issue of Mobile News (October 11, 2010).

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