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Compaq s Acquisition of DEC Described As Good for Bioinformatics Customers

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MAYNARD, Mass.--The announced acquisition of Digital Equipment here by Compaq Computer will be good for Digi tal's bioinformatics customers, according to observers of the deal.

One official who works in the bioinformatics market described the mood as "very excited," but added, "I am not able to comment on it as we are in a quiet period." However, other sources confirmed that the ability to expand its offerings beyond high-end servers down to the desktop will significantly strengthen Digital's standing in the market, allowing the company to "leapfrog over Sun and Hewlett Packard" and directly challenge IBM.

"The merging of the two companies' operations will be beneficial to the scientific marketplace in general and the bioinformatics market in particular. With a very perceptible move by both the chemical and pharmaceutical industries towards NT as a desirable operating system, the combined operations of Digital and Compaq will strengthen this move and increase the acceptability of this operating system as a viable alternative today and as a robust and feature-rich operating system for the future," one source told BioInform.

"In addition, recent moves towards establishing an industry-wide, multiplatform implementation of Digital's 64-bit Unix is further strengthened by the merging of the two companies' operations. The bioinformatics customers of both Digital and Compaq can look forward to a continuing commitment to serve this marketplace and to help further the use of both computational chemistry and computational biology."

The source also characterized the acquisition as "very bold and imaginative" and predicted it will "hit Silicon Graphics and Sun very hard. Hewlett-Packard will have to struggle a bit. And now IBM will have to start looking over their shoulder."

The $9.6 billion deal, the largest ever in the computer industry, was announced January 26 and is expected to close concurrent with the end of Digital's fiscal year on June 30. Eckhard Pfeiffer, Com paq's president and CEO and the announced leader of the postacquisition corporate entity, has stated he wants the company to grow from combined revenues of about $38 billion now to $50 billion by 2000. Digital will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Compaq. While the deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, no significant obstacles are foreseen.

"We put tremendous value on the customer relationships Digital has cultivated over the past 40 years. We are committed to supporting these key customer relationships by investing in Digital's strategic assets, particularly its worldwide service organization, as well as its 64-bit leadership with Alpha microprocessors, OpenVMS, Digital Unix and Windows NT enterprise systems, open storage, and software products," Pfeiffer commented.

Robert Palmer, Digital's chairman, added, "Customers will benefit from the very complementary strengths of both companies. For example, together we will offer customers the greatest concentration of enterprise Windows NT products and lifecycle services available in the market today."

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