Avnet (NYSE: AVT), the parent company of distributor Avnet Technology Solutions (ATS), has snapped up BrightStar Partners (BSP), a Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based, $10 million consulting specialist in IBM (NYSE: IBM) business analytics and performance management, and BSP Software, its software development unit, in a move expected to add services depth to the company.

Neither party disclosed terms of the transaction, which is expected to close within 30 days. When complete, BSP will be folded into ATS, adding to the distributor's IBM-focused services lineup. Officials said that the acquisition immediately will be accretive to earnings.

BSP holds IBM Premier Business Partner status, and, in addition to a consultancy also operates as a VAR and ISV. Its focus spans IBM Cognos business analytics, financial performance management, enterprise score-carding and data warehousing.

The company also owns and maintains cognoise.com, an independent, peer-to-peer collaborative IBM Cognos support community sporting some 15,000 members worldwide.

“This acquisition is part of our long-term strategy to enhance the depth and breadth of our IBM services and software capabilities while providing the expertise our partners need,” said Jeff Bawol, president Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. “Our ability to provide a complete solution of software, services and hardware will drive growth for our suppliers and value-added resellers,” he said.

In a statement posted on the company’s web site, BSP founders Andrew Rachmiel, Andrew Weiss and Neil Morgan said for its customers and partners “it will be business as usual for BSP, as we will continue to invest in helping our clients and partners realize and achieve value through IBM Business Analytics services and software. After the acquisition by Avnet, BSP will retain our full software and services delivery capabilities.”

Despite Avnet officials' assertion that the BSP acquisition, and three other similar purchases the company has made in the past eight months, are driven by a desire to bring better value-added services to bear for its resellers, the transactions still raise questions of propriety owing to a perceived conflict of interest. For example, a distributor adding services to its portfolio through acquiring solution providers might leave the impression among its channel partners that it intends, or at least considers, offering those services to end customers -- if not directly, than perhaps from a separate, targeted business unit.

Indeed, in March, Avnet acquired Ascendant Technology, an IBM middleware reseller and consultant, continued its shopping spree in July by adding Mattelli, an IT contract compliance solution provider, then in August buying Pepperweed Consulting, an HP (NYSE: HPQ) Software Elite Partner.

However, for its part Avnet seems to have kept its nose clean in this regard, using the acquisitions to add technical acumen and skilled employees to bolster its roster of services offerings to channel partners.

“BSP’s expertise is directly aligned with our industry-leading vertical market practices and will support partners’ ability to deliver increasingly complex and customized IT solutions needed by customers in high growth markets,” said Tony Vottima, ATS senior vice president, Americas’ services organization.