NEC issues about face

Despite repeated assurances to the contrary, NEC Australia's computing group announced today it would amalgamate its operations with Packard Bell NEC from next year.

Packard Bell NEC said last week it would withdraw its Packard Bell brand of PCs from the US market, lay off 80 per cent of its 2600 employees and close its manufacturing plant in Sacramento, California. Local NEC officials were quick to distance themselves from that situation.

However, NEC's local personal product group will amalgamate with the Australian Packard Bell NEC operations, but the Packard Bell brand will remain, officials said. They would not confirm the name of the new entity nor would they speculate on whether the amalgamation was a direct result of Packard Bell's US troubles.

The new company expects revenues to exceed $2 million in 2000.

Packard Bell-branded products will continue to address the retail sector, while NEC products will proceed in the corporate, government and education market, officials said.

Packard Bell will continue manufacturing at its plant in Penang in Malaysia as well as maintaining sales offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, the Philippines and Australia. The two-year old Penang plant manufactures Packard Bell and NEC desktop and notebook computers for export to all countries in Asia-Pacific, as well as Australia and the Middle East.

NEC employs 1400 staff locally and reported a $650 million turnover for the financial year ended March 31 this year.

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