VW, Siemens unload IT assets

In a round of musical chairs in Germany, VW sells Gedas to T-Systems, and Siemens sells its computer maintenance unit.

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Volkswagen has sold its IT services arm, Gedas, to T-Systems for between $473 million and $532 million.

As expectations mount for more buying and selling of IT assets in Germany, Siemens also this week sold its product-related services division, which does computer maintenance, to Fujitsu Siemens Computers for an undisclosed sum. Fujitsu Siemens is a joint venture between the Japanese and German companies after which it is named, and it is primarily known for its PCs and servers.

While Siemens is reorganizing its many subsidiaries--tech has hurt the conglomerate's bottom line of late, and this year, it sold its mobile-handset unit to Taiwan's BenQ--the VW deal is part of a trend among large German companies exiting the IT services business.

When industrial groups, the main railway operator and other automakers turned their IT departments into standalone businesses, they planned to handle other companies' IT and make money doing it. But those businesses never developed to the extent once hoped.

One of the features of the VW deal, which is still subject to scrutiny over antitrust rubber-stamping issues, is that Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Systems will handle VW's information technology for the next seven years under an agreement worth $2.95 billion (2.5 billion euros).

T-Systems' launch in 2001 was marked by the acquisition of a majority stake in DaimlerChrysler's Debis IT arm. The stated aim back then was to be among the world's top three systems integration players by 2004. Now some companies it is competing against are also thought to be circling other German acquisition targets.

Tony Hallett of Silicon.com reported from London.