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Deal Gives Indian Companies Access to European Business

Indian high-technology companies are hoping that a new outsourcing contract from a large Dutch bank will help bring more European business to the country. Three of India's top information technology (IT) companies have won some of the contracts handed out recently by a Dutch bank.

Infosys, TCS, and Patni Computer Systems will provide software support and development services to the Dutch bank ABN Amro in deals worth more than $300 million.

ABN Amro bank says the outsourcing contracts will save substantial costs and enhance its competitiveness.

The lion's share of the $2 billion outsourcing deal went to U.S. giant IBM.

Jubilant Indian IT executives say that although they have a much smaller share of the pie, ABN Amro's decision to put Indian companies alongside U.S. companies such as IBM sends a strong message about their ability to compete with global corporations.

The chief financial officer of Infosys, TV Mohandas Pai, says the deal is a milestone for the Indian IT industry. "This is historic … and the reason is that for the first time a major financial institution and a major corporation in the world has given a large deal to Indian companies. It shows that the Indian industry has come of age and can bid for very large deals," he said.

Indian IT companies say the ABN Amro contract will raise their profile and enable them to win more work from European companies, which have been slower to outsource work to India than have U.S. and British businesses.

In a bid to acquire a global profile, some Indian IT companies have opened centers outside the country in recent years. S Mahalingam, the chief executive officer of TCS, says the ABN Amro contract will be handled by some of these overseas centers. "This order has also been the result of the big global delivery footprint that we have. We will be using our delivery capabilities outside of India in places like Budapest and also in Brazil," he said.

The technology industry has flourished in India, as international companies move such work as software research, design, and development to the country, which has a huge pool of low-cost English-speaking technology engineers.

In the financial year that ended in March, India's software industry grew by nearly 35-percent, earning $22 billion.