Flying Low, Happily

What could be called business xenophobia is ramping up as the Dubai Ports controversy takes center stage in Washington and on AM talk shows.

This is hardly a new phenomenon. Industry veterans will recall when Japanese companies bought Columbia Pictures, the Rockefeller Center, and that American institution, the Pebble Beach golf course, in the 1980s. In 1971 the U.S. acquired the London Bridge and shipped it to Arizona. And then there were all those the Dutch Trading Companies.
These are just a couple of prominent examples, and they always didn’t turn out as expected for the acquirers. The Japanese later sold Pebble Beach back at a massive loss. The Americans realized later that the structure they wanted was actually the Tower Bridge.

For years, electronics manufacturers have been modern-day hunters, prowling for buys in faraway lands. They’ve spent billions snatching up everything from OEM plants to Chinese state-owned enterprises to failing businesses from foreign competitors. For better or worse, these businesses haven’t felt the blowback of outraged locals fearful of international owners. As is typical in a largely outsourced industry, the products may be name brands but the companies aren’t. Sometimes, that’s a blessing.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow