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PwC sells business process outsourcing unit

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has sold its international business process outsourcing (BPO) operations to Exult, a company which provides human resources services, for $17m (£10.2m) in cash.

Exult said the deal would enable the company to offer a wider breadth of services and expand its global footprint.

“I'm very excited about the total capability and geographic presence that Exult now has,” said Kevin Campbell, president and chief operating officer of Exult.

Exult will add to its HR BPO offerings with more accounts receivable, general ledger and finance, accounts processing, and fixed assets and procurement tools including e-procurement, said Jim Madden, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Exult. Exult will also expand its accounts payable offerings.

Further intellectual property and capabilities acquired by Exult include BPO tools, message procedures and domain names such as BPO.com.

PwC will be transferring 500 of its employees to Exult including the client managers of transferred existing accounts. Included in this group are multilingual professionals with cross-border finance and accounting skills and years of BPO experience.

The deal boosts the number of Exult's blue-chip clients to 15, with the company taking on six of PwC's contracts with time left ranging from two to six years. These include Standard Chartered Bank, Equifax, Safeway, Tibbet & Britten and Grupo Algar. Total scheduled revenue from the remaining terms of these contracts is about $100m, Exult said.

This acquisition expands Exult's territory to Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands, Poland, India and Brazil.

As a result of the deal, Exult now employs about 2,000 people worldwide with more than half of them outside North America, and serves more than half a million clients, Madden said.

It will also add two client service centres, one in England, and another in Brazil. It already has centres in Glasgow, Memphis, Houston, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and has opened centres in Toronto and Mumbai.

PwC also sold off its management consultancy business last year to IBM for $3.5bn (£2.1bn).

According to a study by Gartner, the worldwide BPO market will increase 10.5% in 2003 to $122bn (£73bn) from $110bn (£66) in 2002. Gartner said that this moderate growth in 2002 and 2003 – compared with double-digit growth for several years previously – is a result of delays in contract signings and lower negotiated rates for BPO.

North America is forecast to make up 57% or $69bn (£41.4bn) of the worldwide BPO market this year, with Western Europe forecast to grow 10.9% to $27bn (£16.2bn). The Asia-Pacific BPO market is expected to grow 7.8% in 2003, to $8.7bn (£5.2bn).

However, Gartner expected BPO market growth in Western Europe and Asia/Pacific to overtake growth in the North America over the next few years.

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