Founded in 1974, Memec distributes microchips to mobile-phone and computer makers in 42 countries. The founder, Dick Skipworth, sold the firm to the German utilities company Eon in 1991, but in 2000 he and the management team led by David Ashworth, chief executive, bought the company back with funding from Permira, the venture capitalist. Despite recent new ventures in Japan and eastern Europe, reported sales dropped by more than £400m to £994m in 2002, when the company had 2,700 employees.
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