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eMachines, the bottom-scraping budget PC maker, is looking to put itself up for sale.

The company puts things a little more cautiously. It says it has asked Credit Suisse First Boston to assist it in "evaluating strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company" but nothing may come of this.

In March, eMachines announced it was laying off 16 per cent of its staff, to get expenses into line with falling sales.

It also canned its Net idea to flog ads that customers would see when they logged on, and closed down its Internet business with the loss of 21 jobs.

eMachines, Korean-owned but based in America, sells PCs as cheap as they come, and it built huge market share in 1999 through deals with MSN among others which saw customers receive PCs as part of bundled ISP contracts. Since the end of those deals sales have fallen by half.

The company started in Novemebr 1998, it sold one million machines in its first year, and has sold a further 2.7 million PCs since. In October 2000, the company announced plans to cut PC manufacture by 20 per cent, in advance of the Christmas season. In retrospect, that was probably the wisest call on the market of any US PC maker - even though the move was prompted more by financial exigencies than by an ability to read a crystal ball. It sold 311,000 units in Q4 2000, down 49 percent from the fourth quarter of 1999.

eMachines last year awarded exclusive European representation rights to Dixons Stores Group, and solus retail rights in countries where the electronics retail giant operated. ®

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