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IBM is paying over one billion dollars for data specialist Ascential Software Corp. Readers with long memories may recall that Ascential was born out of IBM's acquisition of Informix back in 2001.

IBM will pay $1.1bn for Ascential, or $18.50 per share, substantially more than the $15.85 Ascential shares closed at on Friday. Ascential Software helps big companies deal with integrating and managing large amounts of information.

Ascential will operate as a business unit within the Information Management division, headed by Janet Perna. Ascential's products will be included with IBM's other Information Management and Software Group offerings.

Analyst house IDC predicts worldwide spending on data integration to increase from $9.3bn in 2003 to $13.6bn in 2008. Ascential saw turnover increase 46 per cent in 2004 to $272m.

The deal is subject to the usual regulator and shareholder approval but should close in the second quarter 2005.

IBM bought Informix's database business in February 2001 for $1bn in cash but did not take on Ascential. ®

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