Bull finds buyer for stake in Indian software company

Groupe Bull SA has found a buyer for its 50.35-percent stake in Indian systems integrator and software developer PSI Data Systems Ltd., the company announced Monday.

Bull will sell the stake to Indian industrial conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, but will maintain its existing business relationships with PSI, it said in a statement. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The French IT services and servers company acquired the stake in PSI in 1988, when it was looking for an entry into the Indian market and a local manufacturer for its servers.

PSI eventually ended up selling a factory that it had set up for Bull to a local garment manufacturer when the local market moved away from proprietary mainframes to Unix machines. Now control of the whole company is going the same way: garment manufacturing is one of Aditya Birla's main activities, alongside production of textiles, cement, copper, iron and aluminium.

The sale is the latest in a series of divestments as Bull focuses on servers and systems integration services. Bull announced last November that it planned to raise around $400 million this year through the sale of noncore businesses. Last November, Bull announced plans to lay off 1,800 employees, or 10 percent of its workforce, and to reorganize into two independent operating companies, Bull Infrastructure & Systèmes, the main business of which is distributing servers, and Integris, offering consulting and systems integration services. The reorganization prompted a wave of protests from employees.

In February it sold its smart card division, CP8, to Schlumberger Ltd., raising 350 million euros (US$325 million). On May 21, the company announced that it planned to sell most of its struggling systems integration and consulting subsidiary, Integris, retaining only the maintenance element of this division. Bull said it had entered into exclusive negotiations to sell the international part of Integris to its rival, Groupe Steria SCA, and the domestic part to a consortium comprising Steria and two investment groups, Caravelle and Axa Private Equity.

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