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About 1 in 5 IBM Employees Now in India

By The Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) -- IBM Corp.'s expansion in developing countries shows no sign of relenting. The technology company revealed Friday that it now has 73,000 employees in India, almost a 40 percent leap from last year.

IBM did not provide updated figures for its work force in the U.S., which has held steady around 125,000 people in recent years.

Nor did IBM project its total head count. It had 355,766 employees worldwide at the end of 2006.

If the total has risen by the same rate as in 2006, almost one in five IBM workers now is in India, its second-largest center.

Like many other technology providers, IBM has rushed to take advantage of the lower labor costs India offers even for highly skilled workers. IBM's base in India numbered only 9,000 people in 2003, but it was about 53,000 last year.

IBM has been stressing not only the lower expense of working in India but the potential of the Indian market. IBM executives told visiting Indian journalists last week that the company expected to see revenue from the Indian market jump to nearly $1 billion this year, from $700 million in 2006.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM is also ramping up in other key developing markets. Its chairman and chief executive, Sam Palmisano, recently formed a new organization that will spur IBM's investment in emerging economies.

The plan is meant to capitalize on the higher growth rates in the so-called "BRIC" countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. IBM's revenue from those countries rose 18 percent in the first three quarters of this year, even after discounting the benefit of currency fluctuations. IBM's total employee count in those countries now is nearly 100,000, up from 70,000 a year ago.

IBM's vice president of financial management, Jesse J. Greene Jr., would not forecast how much more hiring the company still might do in emerging markets. However, he said "we see continuing good stability in the BRIC countries in general and good opportunity for growth in those countries as well."

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