Imation to distribute Exabyte media

Storage vendors, Exabyte and Imation, have signed a partnership agreement that will see Imation take a stake in Exabyte and become the worldwide master distributor of Exabyte’s media products (such as consumable tapes for the vendor’s tape drives).

The agreement will also see Imation take a five per cent equity stake in Exabyte, giving the storage vendor a cash infusion of about $US20 million in exchange for the distribution rights.

Exabyte’s media products will continue to be manufactured by TDK, Sony and MEI; but under the new agreement Exabyte will sell the consumables to Imation who will distribute the products around the globe. Exabyte claims that Imation’s superior distribution capabilities, particularly in Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific, will increase the presence of the Exabyte products.

Despite having no prior formal relationship, Exabyte and Imation have several wholesale distributors in common in Australia. This, coupled with several provisions in the agreement, should result in no existing distributors being shut out from the products, at least in the short term.

Country manager for Exabyte Australia and New Zealand, Richard Giddey, told ARN that the agreement compelled Imation to take on Exabyte’s customer base for an unspecified period of time.

“From a channel perspective, this should be a very smooth transition,” he said.

For wholesalers ACA Pacific, Datastor and Dynamic Supplies, the agreement will result in little change in the short term as these wholesalers already distribute both Exabyte and Imation products.

Imation’s other distributors, Tech Pacific and Ingram Micro, will not initially be authorised to distribute the Exabyte consumables.

“At this stage there has been no communication as to whether we can move beyond Exabyte’s existing distributors,” national sales and marketing manager for Imation Australia/NZ, Mark Gill, said.

Giddey said any appointment of additional distributors or approval for pricing changes would require dual approval from both Exabyte and Imation.

“It is still Exabyte’s business,” he said. “Imation is just acting as a master distributor.”

Giddey said Exabyte’s Australian distributors would continue to take orders for its consumables products until December 17, before the new distribution agreement kicked in.

Gill said it was possible that Imation might start distributing prior to that date, as was occurring in other regions. “There will be a small crossover in the transition period,” he said.

For more on this story, see next week's issue of ARN.

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