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EU Clears Sale Of IBM Printer Unit To Ricoh

The two companies are forming a joint venture company to manage the operation, called InfoPrint Solutions.
European regulators on Wednesday cleared the $725 million sale of IBM's commercial printer business to Japanese imaging company Ricoh.

The EU said the deal was given the OK through a fast-track approval process and that no objections were raised by competitors.

The sale was originally announced in January. To facilitate the deal, IBM and Ricoh are forming a joint venture company to manage the operation, called InfoPrint Solutions. Ricoh will initially take a 51% stake in the company and will acquire the remaining interest over the next three years.

The sale is seen as the latest move by IBM CEO Sam Palmisano to rid the company of low-margin hardware products that are fast becoming commodities. In April 2005, Palmisano spun off IBM's storied PC business, selling it to China's Lenovo Group for $1.75 billion.

IBM will provide technology and maintenance services to InfoPrint Solutions under a separate contract that's worth $920 million over five years.

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