IBM to Build Europe, Asia 'Smart Infrastructure'

IBM has earmarked $3 billion to finance so-called smart infrastructure projects in Europe and Asia likely to receive government stimulus support.

LONDON (Reuters) - IBM has earmarked $3 billion to finance so-called smart infrastructure projects in Europe and Asia likely to receive government stimulus support.

The move, announced on Wednesday, follows a similar announcement of $2 billion the computer consulting and technology company is making available in the United States as it seeks to win business for which government funds may not immediately be forthcoming.

IBM Global Financing had $36 billion tied up in projects as of end-2008, in the form of measures like project and commercial financing and asset leasing in the public and private sectors.

Its most recent push comes as other infrastructure providers such as telecommunications equipment suppliers Ericsson and ZTE are increasingly providing vendor financing for cash-strapped customers amid global recession.

IBM is now offering low interest rates, deferred payments and structured credit for projects such as the development of congestion-charge schemes in inner urban areas, or health-information technology, as well as for smaller ventures.

The financing is also available for non-IBM products and services, where they are part of projects in which IBM technology is involved.

The $3 billion is split between $2 billion for Europe and $1 billion for Asia-Pacific. The $2 billion previously announced for the United States will also be extended to Canada.

"These stimulus projects and other government projects for more sustainable industries are a huge opportunity for us," IBM Global Financing's head of marketing, Nick Gallop, told Reuters by telephone.

"Government funding, with the best will in the world ... takes time. we can make decisions rapidly now and let companies get started," he said.

"We can use financing to make things much more affordable and bring forward the break-even point of the project."

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