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IBM makes B2B deal with Ariba and i2

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced a move into the business-to-business space Wednesday through an alliance with i2 Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ITWO) and Ariba (Nasdaq: ARBA). IBM will invest an undisclosed amount in the two companies as part of a plan to create a new platform for B2B e-commerce and collaboration.

IBM shares closed at 103 Tuesday. i2 shares closed at 168 7/16, having come a long way since the company first jumped on a deal with IBM last August. Ariba shares closed at 324 1/2, after getting a boost from yet another stock split March 2.

The companies plan to create a platform with open standards to address three aspects of the B2B economy: full-service marketplaces, integrated supply chains and open-network-based services, including payment, logistics, auction and collaboration.

The deal will alter the B2B landscape by providing a way to automate all business interactions between trading partners, making the process more cost efficient and globally competitive, the companies said.

The main assets of the alliance will be IBM's advanced e-business hardware, partnerships and intellectual property portfolio; Ariba's B2B e-commerce platform; and i2's TradeMatrix services and B2B platform, which power B2B and business-to-consumer marketplaces.

The new open-marketplace platform will be resold to vertical and horizontal market makers through IBM, i2 and Ariba channels. IBM will also create a team of professionals who specialize in the new product, and IBM Global Services will provide services to Ariba and i2.

Ariba and i2 will get IBM's e-procurement technology, which will be integrated with their current B2B products, and both will enter patent cross-licensing agreements with IBM.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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