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Reuters Summit-Atos eyes acquisitions in India

Written by: Staff
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PARIS, March 1 (Reuters) French information technology services company Atos Origin wants to make acquisitions in India as soon as possible to accelerate its growth there and is holding talks with several companies, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Bernard Bourigeaud also told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit that Atos planned to increase its staff in India to 2,500 by the end of this year from 1,500 now, excluding the effect of any acquisitions.

Expanding its business in India and China is a key plank of Atos's plan to bump up the proportion of its sales globally that come from Asia to 10 percent over the next four to five years from 4 percent now, Bourigeaud said.

''I'm in discussions with some firms,'' he said. He hoped to clinch a deal ''as quickly as we can''.

Bourigeaud said the companies he was looking at were in information technology, but that he was not discounting the possibility of buying an outsourcing firm.

He also said Atos was more interested in buying a ''captive company'', for example the IT division of a conglomerate, than a company with its own listing.

Bourigeaud said China -- where the company currently has around 1,000 staff and where its main client is Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong -- was another key focus, but that it would probably not make any acquisitions there soon.

''The difficulty in China is there's nothing to buy. China is a hardware market today. It is not yet a services market.'' Bourigeaud said working with partners China Telecom and PC maker Lenovo Group Ltd to provide IT services for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing would be a good introduction for Atos to the Chinese public sector.

''You have to take a long-term view,'' he said.

Bourigeaud also said that in 2006 Atos will concentrate on accelerating its growth in payment systems, IT services to stock exchanges, and in the healthcare sector in Britain.

Growth in payment systems and in healthcare would be achieved both organically and through acquisitions while growth in services to stock exchanges, which are consolidating throughout the world, would be achieved through organic growth and some outsourcing, he said.

REUTERS SRS PM2135

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