Small companies in the UK can now lease computer equipment, software and services over the internet from IBM through a partnership with Heller Financial.

The SuccessLease program, operating since early 1999, allows firms without extensive startup funds to finance up to £30,000 in business hardware, software and services by applying for loans over the Web.

The approval process takes minutes and allows companies to quickly set up to do online business, said Joel Raven, vice president of acquisitions and strategic alliances at IBM.

"The small business customer has a unique set of concerns," Raven said. "They don't have the same access to capital as a large corporate customer would. We do try to be customer friendly."

Heller Global Vendor Finance will provide the financing and administration of SuccessLease worldwide.

"This (financing) is a rapidly growing segment of the industry," said Raven. IBM Global Financing represented 45 percent of IBM assets at the end of 1999 and 13 percent of its pre-tax income.