BVO - REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS ASIA EDITOR, PETER THAL LARSEN,
"Two years ago, Google paid 12.5 billion dollars for the Motorola mobility business. Now, it's selling that business to Lenovo for a price that could be up to 2.9 billion dollars. That looks like a pretty big destruction of value in a short period of time. Actually, Google is doing a slightly better deal than that because in the meantime, they've done a couple of things. They sold the Motorola set top box business for a couple of billion dollars, they also had a one billion dollar tax credit that came with the business when they bought it. And the business had three billion dollars of cash in it, which Google will keep as a result of this deal.
"Lenovo has just a couple of weeks ago announced this deal to buy the IBM server business. Now they're buying a load of handsets. Added together it's about five billion dollars' worth of acquisitions. They're really going for it. I think the strategy is that - it's not entirely clear because they're not really telling us - but we think the strategy is sort of two-fold. They think handsets are very important, and they really want to strengthen their business in that.
"They have a big handset business in China, but not so big outside China. And obviously buying Motorola gets them a brand name that is recognized in other parts of the world, particularly theUnited States. Servers, it's a bit less clear how that fits in, but the strategy with the IBM servers business basically seems to be that they can improve the profitability of that business by mashing it together with their PC business - buying the same components, assembling it at the same time. But nonetheless, it looks like integrating these two big acquisitions, which are both loss-making, is going to be a big ask for Lenovo.
"There is also a potential security issue. Lenovo, for both of these deals, Lenovo needs the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. which basically vets all foreign takeovers for whether they have a security implication. Now, Lenovo is a global business, they have a big business in the U.S. It shouldn't be a problem for them. But on the other hand, if some politicians in the U.S wanted to do a bit of China-bashing, then Lenovo has really just given them an opportunity to do that."