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Gateway, CFN Ink Employee PC Deal

Looking to bring more people online, PC supplier Gateway and the Consumer Financial Network Thursday agreed to provide PCs, Internet access and financing to help firms establish corporate portals.

Gateway will invest $150 million in iXL Enterprises. subsidiary CFN, which provides firms with employee benefits and human resources.

Rishi Sood, principal analyst for vertical markets at Gartner Group, said the strategy enables Gateway to get a leg up on improving the quality of life for its top employees.

"This is a new-model benefit that is becoming more central to companies' retention and workforce training strategies," Rood said. "We expect to see the expansion of this practice as employers recognize the value of having a direct, efficient link to their workers and workers realize the value of easier access to HR and benefit programs."

The deal aligns well with CFN's goal to build a comprehensive portal for consumer financial and health needs at work and at home.

The Gateway investment, on top of a more than $130 million capital infusion completed in March from other investors, would effectively reduce iXL's majority ownership in CFN to a minority interest upon completion of the deal. iXL will remain CFN's largest single shareholder at 48.5 percent.