Acer & AOpen: Why Acer Buys into Digital Signage

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Acer & AOpen: Why Acer Buys into Digital Signage
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Author Thomas Wolfe was wrong: you can go home again…

Who remembers when AOpen was the Open System Business Unit of Acer Computer?

AOpen was incorporated in December 1996 as a subsidiary of Acer Group with an initial public offering (IPO) at the Taiwan stock exchange in August 2002. 

It was also the first subsidiary spun out of Acer under the supervision of Stan Shih, Taiwan's famous PC entrepreneur and founder of the Acer Group (and perhaps the most important man in the history of Taiwan's desire to build its own consumer brands.)

In 1998, Acer re-organised into five groups: AOpen grew from one of those groups.

To dispel complaints from clients that Acer competed with its own products (branded sales vs. contract manufacturing or OEM businesses) in 2000, Acer spun off the contract business, under the name Wistron Corporation. AOpen went with Wistron as a subsidiary.

The restructuring resulted in two primary Acer units: brand name sales and contract manufacturing. Then in 2001 Acer got rid of its manufacturing units, BenQ and Wistron to focus resources on design and sales.

Yes, I just mentioned the history and origin of BenQ. Another part of Stan Shih’s big legacy.

Today, in this new deal of 2017, AOpen and Acer announce a private placement of shares. With this private placement, Acer became the largest corporate shareholder in AOpen followed by Wistron Corporation.

From history, you can see that Wistron was Acer's "brother" (the manufacturing arm of Acer before being spun off in 2001) and that makes Wistron's AOpen a nephew of Acer.

Now the nephew (AOpen, a subsidiary of Wistron Group) gets adopted by the Uncle (Acer, the new main shareholder). In Asian business, it's sometimes hard to tell relatives apart.