Anixter International, Skokie, Ill., moved completely out of the network integration market with an agreement to sell off its North American network integration business for $200 million in cash to Ameritech, Chicago, Ill. The sale of its network integration business was necessary for Anixter because "our ability to realize the full potential of the network integration operation was being hampered by limits we placed on the business" to avoid conflict with customers of Anixter's distribution business, said Robert Grubb, president and chief executive officer of Anixter.

Ameritech, with operations in local and long-distance telephone and data service, cellular, paging, security, cable television and Internet access, considers data one of its fastest-growing target markets. The Anixter acquisition also helps Ameritech develop a nationwide local presence, an ambition that is also behind the company's proposed multi-billion-dollar merger with SBC Communications.

The sale allows Anixter to concentrate on its distribution businesses. "Anixter's core competence has always been its knowledge of communication products and superior logistics capabilities," Grubb said. "By devoting all our efforts to distributing communications and wire and cable products, we believe we can profitably build on our position as the leading global distributor." Anixter will be pursuing new growth opportunities in integrated supply, original equipment manufacture (OEM) supply and the public network market.