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ICL strikes deal with Microsoft
Microsoft and ICL are joing forces to create 1,000 jobs

The British-based computer company ICL is set to form a global alliance with Microsoft to develop new software systems.

The alliance, to be formally announced on Tuesday, will create 1,000 jobs, half of which will be in the UK.

Japan's Fujitsu Ltd owns 90% of ICL.

Both sides will remain independent, but ICL plans cut costs and time spent developing new applications by standardising its products on Microsoft systems.

Flotation

The UK company, which reported a turnover of 2.48bn in 1997 and profits of 30m, hopes to expand its market share in the run-up to its stock market flotation in 2000.

Under the agreement, the companies plan to set up seven "solution centres" to develop and promote software applications.

Three of the sites will be in the UK - Manchester, Belfast and Bracknell in Berkshire - and will create just over 500 jobs.

Europe and US

The others will be opened in Poland and Sweden, and North Carolina in the United States. There will also be one at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington State.

Keith Todd, Chief Executive of ICL, said he was simply interested in having the "right technology" for customers.

While Microsoft held the technological acumen necessary for the deal, ICL brought its expertise of the business market, he said.

Public access

The companies will use the alliance to create a generation of more user-friendly, "consumer- focused" computer systems.

For government they will develop applications to give the public access to information and services. These will be made available through PCs and computer kiosks directly linked to services such as the police and local authorities.

In education, the partnership will develop a range of software for schools and colleges to help manage their own computer systems.

They also plan to pitch into the retail world, where ICL is already a major player, to develop the possibilities of online shopping.

In the wider business forum the Microsoft/ICL alliance will provide broad-based office systems.


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