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ABB, Investor Launch European B2B Company

ABB Ltd. and Swedish holding company Investor launched a new European company called b-business partners, capitalized at more than 1 billion Euros and aimed at investing in and developing business-to-business e-commerce companies across Europe.

The new company also aims to forge closer links between "new economy" and traditional enterprises.

ABB and Investor each will contribute 300 million Euros in initial capital. SEB, a European leader in Internet banking, will contribute Euro 50 million. Additional partners include AstraZeneca, Atlas Copco, Electrolux, Saab (aerospace), Sandvik, StoraEnso and WM-data.

b-business partners said it will cultivate the companies in its portfolio, providing support for sourcing and distribution, sharing technologies and business models, and acting as a hands-on adviser. The partners intend to float b-business partners in an initial public offering within the next three years.

"The launch of b-business partners reaffirms the commitment Investor has made to invest in companies that are ready to rise to the challenge and reap the benefits of this new economy," said Marcus Wallenberg, chief executive officer of Investor AB. "This is the first time large industrial and service corporations have created an investment base exclusively for B2B start-ups in Europe."

ABB said participation in b-business partners is part of its strategy to become a leader in the new economy. ABB already has key IT-driven activities -- such as industrial IT solutions for automation and process control systems, the ABB eBusiness Web site, ABB's IT offerings for intelligent buildings and its new business to build broadband networks in Europe.

The member companies in b-business aim to build broader business relationships, as customers or suppliers, to the e-B2B companies selected for venture capital support. In addition, b-business partners will finance new start-ups for development.

b-business partners will be incorporated in the Netherlands.

ABB is a global company serving customers in power transmission and distribution; automation; oil, gas, and petrochemicals; building technologies, and in financial services. The ABB Group employs about 165,000 people in more than 100 countries.