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Intel pumps $12m into Euro Linux distie

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SuSE, the German Linux distributor and less-cool European equivalent of Red Hat, is receiving Euro 12 million ($12.8 million) from Intel and Apax Partners for marketing and the establishment of sales and support offices worldwide. SuSE also wants to establish a network of business partners. It seems most unlikely that Intel's European investment is any kind of sop against the EU dislike of Pentium III serial numbers, because of data security issues associated with e-commerce transactions that is being investigated by the European Parliament's STOA (Scientific and Technological Options Assessment) Panel. Earlier this year, STOA reported on the "development of surveillance technology and risk of abuse of economic information", while Franck Leprevost's study, Encryption and Cryptosystems in Electronics Surveillance has just been presented to STOA. Tim Keating, Intel's content group director for EMEA, said that "Intel is investing in SuSE because we want to encourage the diffusion of Linux on Intel-based computers in Europe" -- primarily the Xeon until the Itanic... sorry, Itanium is released. Intel's investment policy seems to follow the maxim that if it moves, or could use Intel chips, invest in it -- especially if it offers an alternative to Microsoft. Intel previously invested in Red Hat, which is still unprofitable. Questions are being asked as to whether this is Intel's way of discouraging competition, perhaps to discourage tuning Linux to AMD, or with deals with the likes of Intel-only VA Linux Systems of Sunnyvale, California, which announced at Comdex that it would pre-install SuSE. SuSE now has around 200 staff, and is headquartered in Nuremberg, with offices in the UK (Borehamwood, Herts), the USA (Oakland, California) and the Czech Republic (where Linux is less-raved about, but where there is potentially a fair market). SuSE claims 50,000 business customers worldwide. The question now arises as to when SuSE will have an IPO. The chances are that it wouldn't be in Germany, in view of the extreme German protectionist fiscal policy that may breach EU regulations, as is being seen in the Mannesmann affair. An IPO from a profitable Linux company could be seen as something of a problem: SuSE is profitable, and turned over E10 million in 1998, with an expectation this year for E22 million. ®

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