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Computer Associates Join Forces with PT

The Italian postal service, Poste Italiane Spa (PT), and Computer Associates entered into a joint venture this week for the development and implementation of an advanced system for network administration, database control, and software applications to run PT's financial management.

Upon signing the agreement, PT administrative director, Corrado Passera, said that Poste Italiane would maintain 51 percent of the joint holding, while the American company, Computer Associates, will have a 49 percent share.

Last September, shortly after the postal service was sold to private investors by Italian government, company executives met with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates to discuss possible electronic solutions to their aged accounting and data managing systems.

Under state control, the postal service had lost an average of $1.4 billion a year. Much of this was accredited to the fact that daily operations like mail sorting, financial transactions, and general administration was, for the most part, still done manually.

"We don't want to raise postal rates," Corrado said at that time. "What we do want is to offer additional and faster computer-based services through Internet access."

Computer Associates will provide the expertise and technical skills to bring about these solutions. By the end of 1999, there are plans for 60,000 individual workstations distributed through 14,000 post offices and an additional 500 in central administration offices.

According to the joint venture agreement, signed by Computer Associates president, Charles Wang, the U.S. corporation will be responsible for software, the development project, technical assistance and operational control on a regional and national level.

Unlike some countries, the Italian post offices provide financial services in addition to mail delivery. Each month, millions of Italians receive their pensions and salaries at the post office. Hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses have savings deposit plans with the post office.

In addition, one can pay state and local taxes, utility bills, traffic tickets, or purchase state bonds and certificates at PT locations.

"We maintain $147.6 billion in savings accounts and take in $400 million in payments each year, while Italy's entire banking system takes in only $171 million," said Passera.