Perot created jobs in India, as well as rural U.S.

Dell sees room for savings in merger, but has given no specifics yet

To stay competitive, IT services firm Perot Systems Corp. has built facilities in India and other low-wage offshore regions. But this Texas-based company has also been expanding operations in lower cost areas of the U.S., away from high-price coastal metropolitan areas.

Perot has established facilities in Lincoln, Nebraska and Bowling Green, Kentucky, but whether Perot's affinity for rural locations will survive Dell Inc.'s $3.9 billion acquisition, is an open question.

Dell and Perot are hoping their combined companies can expand IT services, especially as the federal government spends billions to help health care providers move to electronic records.

Perot has 23,000 employees, about 65% in the U.S., with its largest offshore workforce in India at 8,000. A Perot spokesman said that this figure, both the total headcount and percentage of workers in the U.S., has remained relatively constant for the last two years.

Ross Perot, chairman emeritus of Perot and founder of the company said in a press call today, "Our U.S. workforce has grown faster than our global work force." He pointed to Perot's expansion in rural communities.

"Lots of middle American, small American towns have been very good to Perot, so we believe we can do both," Perot said of the operations that the company has built in rural areas. Perot was a presidential candidate in the early 1990s known for his adamant opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Perot is one of Lincoln's largest employers with about 1,000 workers. The company has also been completing a 150,000 square-foot local facility, reports the Lincoln Journal Star.

Bowling Green may be best known for General Motor's Bowling Green assembly plant, which bills itself as the "Home of the Corvette," but Perot "is an important employer in our community," said the city's mayor, Elaine Walker.

"Our hope is that the purchase by Dell won't affect the Bowling Green operation," Walker said. "We have a very good history of having people with a good work ethic and we have a tendency to see companies consolidate operations in Bowling Green." The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce says the cost of living there is about 6.9% below the national average.

Bowling Green, population 55,000, has about 5,000 jobs tied to the automotive industry. Perot has grown its operations over the last year, and now has about 300 people at in this facility, with room for more. "IT is critically important to us as we grow," said Walker.

Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of the company that bears his name, said that there are about $4 billion in cost to the combined company and he "sees an opportunity" to the tune of between about 6% and 8% in terms of savings, shared delivery and IT costs.

Dell didn't provide specifics on what might that mean to headcount in today's call, other than to say that the acquisition is "really about growth."

On the issue for completing work offshore, Dell said, "I think there are great opportunities here in the United States, and we should also remember that 96% of the population lives outside the United States and there are some great opportunities there as well," he said.

After Hewlett-Packard acquired another Perot-founded firm, EDS, for $13.9 billion in August 2008, it quickly announced plans to cut about 24,600 employees over three years at both companies as part of the post-acquisition restructuring.

In August, HP also cut salaries of some EDS employees, some as much as 50%. HP officials said it cut wages was to way ensure that employees at EDS and HP, holding the same roles, receive comparable compensation.

EDS employed 137,000 workers at the time of its acquisition with 47,000 based in the U.S. at the time of the acquisition.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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