France Telecom thus becomes the fifth shareholder of the horizontal B2B marketplace launched on November 7, 2000. This decision is clearly in line with FT's development strategy in the marketplace, and conforms to the founding shareholders' initial plan which included the integration of a strategic telecom partner-shareholder.
The new breakdown of answork ownership is as follows: BNP Paribas 25%, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young 15%, Crédit Agricole 25%, France Telecom 10% and Société Générale 25%.
With its investment in answork, France Telecom is pursuing a two-fold objective:
- to establish itself as a major B2B marketplace player over the long term by actively taking part in answork's French and European development and the expansion of its product offering, especially through jointly packaged solutions.
- to consolidate its position as a network operator and infrastructure/service provider, by actively contributing to e-marketplace operations.
As is the case for the four founding shareholders, France Telecom, which will be represented on the Board of Directors by Jacques Champeaux (Executive Director of France Telecom's Corporate Division) and on the Strategic Committee by Denis Petonnet (President of France Telecom e-business), has placed answork at the heart of its inter-business e-commerce development strategy. FT is thus adding its network operations know-how to the previously-pooled expertise of the three banks in terms of flow management, financing and payment security, and that of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in the field of information systems integration.
"Furthermore, just like the four founding companies, we intend to be actively involved in answork's international development by participating, for example, in projects which will be implemented abroad by leveraging the expertise of our Global One subsidiary," explained Denis Petonnet, President of France Telecom e-business.
Like the other shareholders, FT will also distribute answork services and use the company's solutions for its own procurements.
"Contributing its numerous strengths in technology and innovation as well as international scale, in joining forces with the other shareholders France Telecom will bring new assets to answork which will facilitate our growth in France and Europe," added Dominique Engasser, CEO of answork. "And it will help the company to fulfill its objective of becoming the European market leader ahead of schedule."
answork is a neutral electronic marketplace operator which facilitates exchanges between businesses in order to improve performance over the long term. On-line since the beginning of October 2000, answork offers a personalized global technological solution which allows buyers and sellers to optimize their transactions via the Internet, on the basis of pre-negotiated terms, on a secure site, with the added advantage of complete confidentiality and security.
Dedicated initially to corporate goods and services purchases, answork covers all steps of the procurement process, from setting up and consulting on-line catalogs through order approval, shipping, billing and payment. The e-marketplace thus allows buyers to reduce costs and procurement process lead times, and helps suppliers to widen customer relations while reducing their sales and marketing costs. answork solutions will also include a wide range of high value-added services.
To accomplish this, answork accompanies its clients from hook-up to deployment (project management technical support, user training, user hotlines), from digitization to the management of seller catalog flow management. The exchange platform is compatible with the majority of integrated business management software (ERP) as well as e-procurement and e-selling management systems.
A company with shareholders' equity of €15 million, answork benefits from the support of its five shareholders - BNP-Paribas, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Credit Agricole, France Telecom and Société Générale - who give the company the means necessary for its development in France and Europe.
For more information, please see the answork website at: www.answork.com
About France Telecom
In May 2000, France Telecom created France Telecom e-business, a subsidiary dedicated to e-business applications, principally for B2B exchanges.
France Telecom's Corporate Division has a portfolio of over 250,000 clients in France, including major corporate clients and SMEs, as well as 30,000 international-based clients through its Global One subsidiary which is present in 70 countries.
France Telecom's international presence will be further reinforced by its acquisition of Equant and its ensuing merger with Global One. The operation - announced in November 2000 and expected to be concluded in the first half of 2001 - will help expand access to a platform which is both global and domestic, spanning over 220 countries and territories. The planned company, Equant/Global One, will have a customer portfolio of approximately 3,700 multinationals, including over 75 of the world's 100 largest companies.