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SAP, Mannesmann pitch Web services to Europe

The German software giant and European telecommunications firm ink a deal to jointly offer Web services and applications to European businesses.

SAP and Mannesmann today inked a deal to jointly offer Web services and applications to European businesses.

Under the agreement, German software giant SAP and European telecommunications firm Mannesmann will jointly sell customers Internet connectivity, Web hosting, e-commerce products and services, and business-to-business capabilities, the companies said in a statement late Friday.

Using SAP's marketplace, Mannesmann and SAP said they plan to offer a wide range of business-to-business products and services to help businesses set up virtual marketplaces where they can connect with their partners, suppliers and customers. In addition, the companies said users will be able to obtain products, services and information from multiple providers, take part in auctions, call for bids and make use of personalized services via the virtual marketplace.

In recent weeks, several deals have been made in the virtual marketplace space as the demand for business-to-business e-commerce grows. Forrester Research expects the industry to expand to $1.52 trillion in 2003 from about $131 billion this year.

Last week, SAP announced plans to launch an online health care marketplace with partner SAP said the joint marketplace will serve as a global online network to unite health care providers and medical suppliers to exchange information and buy and sell medical supplies and equipment. SAP also recently announced a partnership with chemical industry giants, such as BASF, to create a business-to-business marketplace for material repairs and supplies for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

SAP and Mannesmann, which recently faced a hostile takeover bid by Vodafone AirTouch, also said they plan to offer business-to-business procurement software, which will help customers cut their internal processing costs by as much as 70 percent. Business-to-business procurement is a process that allows companies to buy and sell goods from their partners or suppliers over the Internet and is intended to eliminate heavy paperwork.

SAP and Mannesmann said their joint e-commerce offerings will be developed and implemented on a customized basis and Web hosting will be done in Mannesmann's data centers. Work on joint projects is already underway, and early results should be available during the first half of 2000, the companies said.