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  1. Technology
March 4, 1994

BULL PUTS BLACKOUT ON CORPORATE NEWS: “CAN’T AFFORD PEOPLE TO ANSWER QUERIES”

By CBR Staff Writer

As part of its cost-cutting effort, Compagnie des Machines Bull SA has seen fit to eliminate entirely the function of a central corporate spokesman to whom questions about financial results, strategy or Brussels issues can be directed. When you have money, you can provide these kinds of services, but when you don’t, you can’t, said Jean Segond, who is charged with company strategy, but not with making public statements. We prefer that you call us with questions about our products, our services or our clients. Segond said his staff is too overloaded with work to be bombarded with questions about financial or European Commission-related problems. He expressed disbelief that other computer and software companies in France provide a press relations function for corporate issues. There are plenty of IT companies without a corporate spokesman, and who are doing quite well, I might add, he said, implying that with this decision Bull expects to improve its performance in the market. The reorganisation in Bull’s communications division began shortly after the arrival of Jean-Marie Descarpentries, when the company spokesman for the international press was sent back to the US, along with another spokesman for general product queries. Inquiries, as long as they concern products and not the company itself, must now be directed to one of half a dozen press relations who handle exclusively GCOS or the Open Software Foundation, for example. Tough luck for journalists (particularly technical, non-French journalists) who need a statement relating to corporate policy. You just don’t call us. We don’t handle this any more, Segond said – all of which suggests that commentators starved of facts will be left to resort to pursuing unions, sources close to the company and printing speculation, which given Bull’s parlous state, is unlikely to be encouraging.

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