Global Dispatches

An International IT News Digest

BT Group to Buy Infonet for $965M

LONDON

BT Group PLC last week agreed to buy El Segundo, Calif.-based Infonet Services Corp. for about $965 million, in another attempt by BT to expand into the U.S. and offer global networking services.

Infonet provides Asynchronous Transfer Mode and virtual private networking services to hundreds of multinational companies, including Bayer Group, Nestle SA and Hitachi Ltd.

London-based BT's previous attempts to crack the U.S. market include an aborted effort to acquire MCI Inc. and the ill-fated Concert joint venture with AT&T Corp.

Some analysts said the Infonet acquisition is a good move for BT. But Camille Mendler, an analyst at the London office of The Yankee Group, said that "BT has not been good at integrating its acquisitions" and that the merger "means less choice for users."

The deal is due to close by mid-2005.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

GE to Sell 60% Of Indian BPO Unit

BANGALORE, India

General Electric Co. said it's selling a 60% stake in GE Capital International Services Americas Inc. (GECIS), its business process outsourcing subsidiary in India, to two U.S. investment firms for about $500 million.

General Atlantic Partners LLC in Greenwich, Conn., and Oak Hill Capital Partners LP in New York will jointly buy a majority stake in GECIS, which is based in Gurgaon near Delhi. GE will hold on to the remaining 40%, and the Indian operation will continue to serve its business units under a multiyear contract. But after the transaction closes, GECIS will also offer its services to other companies worldwide.

In 1997, GE was one of the first multinational companies to outsource back-office, data center and call center operations to a subsidiary in India. But now companies are moving away from captive subsidiaries and are instead outsourcing such work to independent Indian outsourcing companies.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Telabria Plans First U.K. WiMax Network

Telabria Ltd., a start-up in Sittingbourne, England, has begun construction of a WiMax broadband wireless network in southern England, initially in the county of Kent. Enterprise customers will be offered end-to-end WiMax links as a wireless alternative to T1 and leased lines.

Telabria said at the recent WiMax Forum in Boston that it aims to be the first company in the U.K. to offer commercial WiMax service, starting in mid-2005. Other WiMax networks are beginning to sprout in Europe, including trial networks in Dublin and Skelleftea, Norway.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mitch Betts.

Briefly Noted

Microsoft Canada Co. President Frank Clegg is taking a seven-month sabbatical and will be replaced by David Hemler, a Microsoft Corp. vice president from the U.S. Clegg praised the management team at the Mississauga, Ontario-based unit but said the Canadian executives are "not ready yet" for the role of president.

• Michael MacMillan, ITWorldCanada.com

Dell Inc. is setting up its third customer contact center in India, in Chandigarh in the country's northern region. The center is likely to open by March, with about 300 employees who initially will provide tech support to U.S.-based customers.

• John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Vodacom (Pty) Ltd. in Midrand, South Africa, said it will be the first company to market Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry handheld devices in South Africa, beginning in the first half of next year with the 7100v model. That product is designed for use in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

• Computing South Africa

GLOBAL FACT

15,000

Number of Wi-Fi hot spots expected in Taipei, Taiwan, by the end of next year.

• Hewlett-Packard Co.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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