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IBM set to lose megadeal with AstraZeneca

Pharmaceuticals giant reconsiders IT outsourcing agreement two years ahead of time

Global pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca, headquartered in London, is set to break off its IT outsourcing relationship with IBM, Computer Sweden and sister publication IT24 have learned.

The US$1.4 billion deal, signed in July 2007, was supposed to be a seven-year arrangement, but now IBM is to leave AstraZeneca in 12-15 months, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. AstraZeneca is said to have made its plans known on April 8, after several months of negotiations with IBM.

Under the agreement, IBM has provided IT infrastructure management services to AstraZeneca locations in 60 countries. The services include server and storage hosting, desktop management, network maintenance and management and help desk support for AstraZeneca's 61,000 employees.

According to sources, AstraZeneca has been dissatisfied with IBM for a long time. Several IBM competitors are now gearing up to compete for the $200 million a year contract and replace IBM at the pharma giant.

"Of course we are interested, I think every player on the market is," said a high-ranking executive at an IBM competitor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The 2007 agreement was seen as a key win for IBM's services unit, given that it came at a time when an increasing number of large pharmaceutical companies where tapping offshore vendors for their IT needs.

AstraZeneca was created in 1999 after a merger of Swedish pharmaceutical company Astra and the Zeneca Group of the U.K. It is the world's seventh-largest pharmaceutical company measured by revenue, which was $33.3 billion in 2010.

IBM and AstraZeneca declined to comment.

"We never comment individual client relationships," said a spokesman for IBM in Sweden.

"We won't give any comments on this at this time," a spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said.

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