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Affiliated Computer Services Inc. on Tuesday unveiled its latest BPO (business process outsourcing) acquisition: LiveBridge Inc.

LiveBridge is a customer-care services company that primarily pursues the financial and telecommunications markets. The company operates call centers in the U.S., Canada, Argentina, and India. ACS purchased LiveBridge for $32 million in cash. Terms of the deal also call for contingent payments based on future financial performance.

The acquisition marks ACS’ second purchase in the BPO space this year.

In May, the company completed the purchase of the human resources consulting and outsourcing arm of Mellon Financial Corp. The pace of M&A activity in the BPO arena has quickened in recent months as companies gird themselves for fierce competition.

The LiveBridge deal, however, differs from the earlier Mellon transaction in that it is more niche-oriented. Phil Fersht, a research director at EquaTerra Inc., an outsourcing advisory firm, said he believes that BPO vendors now aim to scoop up midsize players focused on discrete competencies within that sector.

Fersht pointed to IBM’s acquisition earlier this year of Equitant, a vendor focused on the order-to-cash cycle aspect of finance and administration BPO services. He said vendors make such acquisitions “to fill in holes in their service offerings.”

Specifically, the LiveBridge acquisition provides ACS with call center representatives accustomed to dealing with the types of customer situations that arise in the telecommunications and financial services market, Fersht said.

“ACS is obviously gearing up for winning new business in these sectors,” Fersht said. He added that BPO vendors need to acquire a deeper understanding of business models within the vertical markets they pursue.

Both telecommunications and financial services are prime markets for BPO services, according to Fersht. The telecommunications industry, he said, “has to consider going down the BPO path” because companies in that sector “are under so much competitive pressure to strip out costs.”

In addition, Fersht said the financial services market has begun to see more BPO activity. He noted that industry consolidation has helped to drive interest in the practice.

LiveBridge reported revenue of $89.6 million in 2004. ACS said 3,000 LiveBridge employees will join the company.

Atos, Unisys New Outsourcing Neighbors

Atos Origin has captured a 10-year outsourcing contract with Britannic Group, an insurance company that recently agreed to merge with Resolution Life Group—a Unisys Corp. outsourcing customer.

Paris-based Atos Origin on Tuesday announced the Britannic award. Britannic and Resolution Life, both based in the United Kingdom, disclosed their merger plan last month. Resolution Life earlier this year inked a $90 million outsourcing contract with Unisys Insurance Services Ltd.

In the Britannic outsourcing deal, Atos Origin will provide data center services and will handle the printing of checks and other financial documentation. Unisys, meanwhile, provides policy administration services for Resolution Trust.

The outsourcing projects are not expected to overlap. A spokesperson for Atos Origin said the company’s outsourcing pact will run in parallel with Unisys’ contract with Resolution Life.

A spokesperson for Unisys said the Atos Origin contract “is not related to the type of administration services outsourcing we do for Resolution.” The insurance company “indicated that it has no intention of breaking any of its current outsourcing arrangements for its insurance administration operations,” the spokesperson said.

Unisys concentrates on BPO deals in markets such as insurance and banking.

Elvis has left the building.

eFashion Solutions Hosts Elvis

Elvis Presley Enterprises has inked a Web retailing deal with eFashion Solutions LLC, a turnkey e-commerce service provider.

The company will manage online stores, shipping, payment, and fulfillment for Elvis Presley Enterprises, which sells officially licensed and trademarked Elvis products. The deal was announced on Tuesday.

Edward Foy Jr., eFashion Solution’s CEO, said eFashion Solutions handled the online store design and provides hosting via Rackspace Managed Hosting, based in San Antonio, Texas. The e-commerce company backs up to its New Jersey location for disaster recovery purposes. Logistics is provided through eFashion Solutions’ partnerships with UPS and the U.S. Postal Service.

Foy said eFashion captured the Elvis deal in a recompete of a contract previously held by FanBuzz.

Foy said eFashion initially pursued fashion as a market for its e-commerce services and moved into entertainment as the two fields began to mesh. Foy and his wife, company president Jennifer Silano-Foy, both have backgrounds in the fashion industry. Both worked at Calvin Klein.

The company has also created Web stores for Jennifer Lopez, Eminem and Orange Country Choppers, among others. The Foys employ more than 100 people in a 71,000-square-foot space that combines a warehouse, call center and design facility. The Secaucus, N.J., company had revenue of $30 million in 2004.

More Moves in Japanese Outsourcing

Add IBM to the list of companies maneuvering for position in the Japanese outsourcing market.

IBM on Monday debuted a business transformation outsourcing center in Brisbane, Australia, to target opportunities in Japan and the Asia-Pacific area.

IBM’s outsourcing center “will assist companies throughout Asia-Pacific, particularly Japan,” according to IBM Australia. The center will focus on such business functions as customer relationship management, human resources, finance and accounting, supply chain management and procurement.

IBM’s move follows two recent outsourcing awards: Accenture’s seven-year outsourcing pact with Japanese electronics manufacturer Elpida, and Computer Sciences Corp.’s five-year outsourcing deal with ING Life Japan. Under the Elpida contract, Accenture will manage systems that handle finance, procurement, customer relations and knowledge management. And CSC will support 25 business system applications for the Japanese insurance company.

Among the applications CSC will support is its own LIFE/J system, an administration solution that supports the processing of life and pension insurance products.