Does Cap Gemini Sogeti SA, the French computer services company, still want to get rid of its 36% holding in Cisi SA, the systems integrator? Mystery surrounds the future of its holding now the formal deal has been completed for Compagnie des Signaux, the French industrial group, to buy the 64% stake in Cisi owned by the French government. Cap Gemini made it clear that it was hoping to exit the situation regarding its 36% holding last year (CI No 2,853). But the company responded to the latest news with a deafening silence. No-one was available to comment from its French headquarters although it was explained that this is August, a month when the entire French population appear to abandon work and flee to the beach. Cisi – a loss-making computer services arm of the state atomic energy authority – has been up for grabs since 1995 and initially the Anglo-French Sema Group Plc was hot favorite and spent months in negotiations over a deal. However, against a volatile political background – with the French parliament echoing to grim predictions of redundancies if Sema took over – the talks collapsed. By February this year, there were five offers on the table. Compagnie de Signaux won out because it bid for the whole of Cisi while the other companies were only interesting in particular subsidiaries. Cisi specializes in scientific information systems. It has a wholly- owned subsidiary in the UK, Rand Information Systems Ltd, which has a 16m pound revenue and 300 employees. Rand insists that it will continue to operate as an autonomous company and it said that the support of Compagnie des Signaux will enable it to undertake European and global systems integration and migration projects. The combination of Compagnie des Signaux and Cap Gemini Soceti gives Rand the backing of two major European field leaders, said Rand managing director Tom Reid. Whether Cap Gemini is entirely happy with the arrangement will not be known until its board return from the beach.
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