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In a surprise move, British Petroleum Plc’s computer bureau and systems subsidiary Scicon International has re-registered as an American company and will in future be managed from the US, where it already has 700 of its 3,500 staff. The company, now renamed Scicon Corp, says the move will enable it to expand its operations in the US which represents 50% of the information technology market, although as few as four senior staff will be transferred over there. Marketing and commercial director Ray Waite insists that the change of location is part of Scicon’s bid to become a major international business, not the first step towards a US flotation or sell-off by BP. For the calendar year just ended, Scicon, the largest British-owned systems and software company, had a turnover of around UKP160m, of which UKP45m came from the UK with most of the remainder shared fairly equally between the US, France and West Germany. One of the main growth areas was standard, rather than bespoke, software packages for DEC, Hewlett-Packard and IBM kit, and Waite expects this trend to continue. He says that the US base will give Scicon greater access to new products and software developments without affecting the company’s relationships with existing commercial clients. Waite refutes suggestions made in the Guardian that the company will now be subject to the influence of the US Department of Commerce and the Central Intelligence Agency when tendering for non-US defence contracts.

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