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Gateway Offers to Buy Packard Bell Parent

Gateway, the personal computer maker being acquired by Taiwan's Acer, said it offered to buy the parent of Packard Bell, a Paris-based PC vendor. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Acer has agreed to fund Gateway's acquisition of the parent, PB Holding, from Lap Shun (John) Hui and Clifford Holdings, an entity controlled by Hui, according to a Gateway statement.

Gateway had earlier announced its intent to exercise its right of first refusal to acquire Hui's indirect interest in Packard Bell. China's Lenovo Group also has said it wanted to buy Packard Bell.

Acer’s planned $710m acquisition of Gateway, which would put it ahead of Lenovo as the third-largest PC vendor, behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell, is one of the first large cross-border transactions to be scrutinized by the Committee on Foreign Investment after legal adjustments to the inter-agency panel’s powers.

If Packard Bell is successfully acquired, this would confirm the Taiwanese company’s victory over Lenovo as rivalry between the two Asian companies heat up. Acer’s announcement in late August that the Gateway deal would also secure it control over Packard-Bell followed a statement by Lenovo that it was in exclusive talks to acquire the European company.

The deal is expected to close sometime in the fourth quarter of 2007 or first quarter of 2008.