RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Is Lenovo still trying to acquire Netherlands-based Packard Bell or not?

In two recent interviews, Lenovo Chief Executive Officer William Amelio has made the situation about as clear as mud.

As Alice would say: “Curiouser and curiouser!”

Lenovo had disclosed plans to buy Packard Bell in early September only to be trumped by PC rival Acer, which agreed to buy Gateway three weeks later. Gateway, it turns out, had the right of first refusal in any deal to acquire Packard Bell.

However, Lenovo executives including Amelio have said Packard Bell remains a target. Lenovo, which is battling Acer for the third spot in world computer sales, needs the Belgium acquisition to acquire infrastructure for its planned move to increase European sales.

On Tuesday, Amelio told Reuters that “Packard Bell is a great fit, and we’re still very interested.” The deal is still possible, he added. “It’s not over until it’s over.”

However, the Financial Times reports that Amelio told that paper last week that the Packard Bell deal was not at the top of his priority list.

If, in fact, Acer/Gateway acquired Packard Bell, Amelio told the Financial Times that he would not “lose any sleep.”

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with China Daily, Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanqing said the Packard Bell deal was still possible. But he didn’t seem overly concerned.

"The acquisition of Packard Bell is just one of many of our options," Yang said. "We never put all our bets on one deal."

Yang, who is leading Lenovo’s recently announced drive to improve consumer sales, added that the firm has other priorities beyond any mergers or acquisitions.

"I think the next step for Lenovo is to strengthen distribution channels, which is more critical to succeed in markets outside China,” he said.

Stay tuned. The Packard Bell story is far from over.