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With the flu epidemic threatening to consign most of Britain to its sick bed, it's good to see that someone is coughing up something other than phlegm. Cable & Wireless (C&W) announced this morning that it had just filled the coffers of eight European Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in a bid to make its mark as a major player in the business to business Internet market. C&W wouldn't reveal how much the multi-country deal would set it back but together with three earlier acquisitions, C&W total investment in European business ISPs hits and impressive £300 million ($500 million). Collectively, the newly acquired ISPs have annualised revenues of £80 million ($130 million) and almost 1,000 data and IP-skilled staff. Customers include 3Com, BMW, Honda, Lufthansa and McDonald's. The telco also announced today that it is to invest and an additional £300 million ($500 million) in its European IP network build programme. In a statement issued today Graham Wallace, CEO of C&W said: "These ISP acquisitions and the extra network investment are a major step forward in our plans to lead the market in providing IP services to business customers. "We are already in the top three companies in the world in the business IP market. With current annual revenues in continental Europe of £300 million, and with the acquisitions and network investments announced today, Cable & Wireless is a leading European provider of IP services to business." Affirming C&W's preference for the business market as opposed to the consumer side, a spokesman for the telco said: "We believe 85 per cent of ecommerce will be b-2-b, whereas 85 per cent of the noise [currently being made about the market in general] is about consumer ecommerce." The eight ISPs acquired by C&W are: Xpoint (Austria), online internet (Belgium), ISDnet (France), UNIDATA (Italy), DSLogic-DSNet (Italy), grupo INTERCOM (Spain), agri.ch (Switzerland) and Petrel Communications (Switzerland). ® For the latest IT and Net-related finance news, check out Cash Register.

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