Heard in the Channel: Avnet makes European acquisition

July 9, 2013
Deal expands distributor’s coverage across the continent; plus news on conflict minerals, and the latest on “wearable technology”

Electronics distributor Avnet, Inc. is expanding its presence throughout Europe with the acquisition of MSC Investoren GmbH, a European distributor of electronic components, embedded computing technology and display solutions. Avnet announced the deal this week and said it will acquire “MSC Group” in a two-step approach, first acquiring a majority interest in the company after regulatory approval has been granted and acquiring the remainder “within a short time frame.”

MSC Group is a value-added distributor that combines distribution, production and system integration capability to address emerging customer demand for more complex electronic products, Avnet said in a statement announcing the deal July 8. MSC Group generated more than $450 million (US) in revenue in 2012, with embedded computing technology (including display solutions) accounting for nearly 50% of sales.

Avnet leaders say the acquisition complements its existing design and supply chain service offering while expanding growth opportunities across Europe, particularly with the industrial electronics market.

MSC Group will be integrated into the European business region of Avnet’s Electronics Marketing operating group.

Conflict over conflict minerals policies

In other industry news, the debate over conflict minerals reporting continued this summer when an activist group held a demonstration in New York City’s Rockefeller Center aimed at consumer electronics company Nintendo. Led by the anti-slavery group Walk Free, the event was designed to urge Nintendo to clarify its stance on ensuring that its products do not contain so-called conflict minerals, which are mined from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a region known for violence and human rights violations. The issue plays a prominent role in the electronics supply chain due to the common use of minerals such as tantalum, tungsten, gold and tin used in all kinds of electronic equipment.

Walk Free claims that Nintendo’s conflict minerals policy shifts responsibility for procuring conflict-free minerals to its suppliers and that the company does not go far enough to ensure that such minerals do not find their way into Nintendo’s gaming products.

Nintendo has said it bans conflict minerals in the use of its products and that it works with its suppliers to ensure that the ban is upheld, but Walk Free says the company does not measure up to its competitors or other leading consumer electronics companies on the issue, many of whom have spoken out publicly on the issue and have joined widely recognized programs such as the Conflict Free Smelters program (CFS). CFS is an Electronic Industry Citizen Coalition/Global e-Sustainability Initiative program designed to help manufacturers and suppliers trace materials back to their mine of origin.

“By repeatedly pointing to a conflict mineral policy that shifts the responsibility to their subcontractors in other countries, Nintendo is telling their customers that the company’s leadership is not serious about auditing their supply chain in the same way as many of their peers in the electronics industry,” Debra Rosen, Movement Director at Walk Free, said in a statement announcing the group’s late June protest. “Several CEOs of other leading consumer electronics companies have spoken out on their commitment to this issue, and we’d love for Nintendo to do the same if they are concerned about the possibility that their game consoles could include minerals mined with slave labour.”

More Industry News

In still other news, electronic component companies announced the following contests, new distribution agreements, awards and personnel changes:

  • In a nod to one of the hottest topics in new technology, element14 has launched a “wearable technology” challenge for engineers and developers. The global competition focuses on technology integrated into clothing and wearable accessories, and entrants will use Adafruit’s FLORA kit as the computing platform. Details are available on the element14 community.
  • Future Electronicsannounced new distribution agreements with three suppliers: Lattice Semiconductor, Microsemi and Bridgelux. Future will offer Lattice’s complete portfolio of low-power, low-cost FPGA, CPLD and programmable power management design solutions worldwide; will provide worldwide sales, design support and fulfillment services for Microsemi’s line of semiconductor systems solutions (excluding certain government products and services); and will provide global sales, design support and fulfillment services for Bridgelux’s portfolio of LED products sold through distribution.
  • Interconnect specialistHeilind Electronics announced it is now stocking Molex Inc.’s top-contact 0.25mm pitch FPC connector, the latest edition to the range of Molex 0.25mm pitch FPC solutions for applications such as mobile phones and digital cameras.
  • Mouser Electronics announced its sponsorship of the 25th annual IEEE HOT CHIPS symposium, set for August 25-27 at Stanford University in California. HOT CHIPS is a top semiconductor industry conference focusing on high-performance microprocessors and related integrated circuits.
  • Mouseralso released an enhanced version of its medical applications website. New features focus on medical imaging solutions including MRI, portable ultrasound, and digital x-ray, helping engineers to solve a unique set of design challenges.
  • New York-based interconnect specialist Astrex Electronics hired Debbie Campion as vice president of sales. Campion comes to Astrex from Philadelphia-based PEI Genesis, where she served many roles, including national sales manager and director of sales.
  • Top electrical distributor TTI, Inc. recently received a 2012 Platinum Source Preferred award from Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Division.
  • Battery and energy-storage manufacturer VARTA Microbattery, Inc., moved to new North American headquarters in Rye, New York, in June.


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About the Author

Victoria Fraza Kickham | Distribution Editor

Victoria Kickham is the distribution editor for Electronic Design magazine, SourceESB and GlobalPurchasing.com, where she covers issues related to the electronics supply chain. Victoria started out as a general assignment reporter for several Boston-area newspapers before joining Industrial Distribution magazine, where she spent 14 years covering industrial markets. She served as ID’s managing editor from 2000 to 2010. Victoria has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in English from Northeastern University.