BT looks toward Asian SMB market

BT has completed its acquisition of Singapore-based IT systems integrator, Frontline, and says this will bring it closer to the smaller clients in the region.

BT says its Frontline acquisition will help it capture the Asian SMB market.

The British networking giant today announced it has completed the acquisition of Singapore-based IT services company, Frontline Technologies, thereby rebranding it BT Frontline.

BT, which relies primarily on its portfolio of large accounts, says its acquisition will give it an inroad into the Asian market, where its presence is less strong than in Europe.

Allen Ma, president of BT Asia-Pacific, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia that while its Fortune 500 clients are long-term, "bread and butter" accounts, there are also emerging customers in SMBs, which have the potential to grow into much bigger accounts in future.

"A global service provider is a mismatch for smaller clients which have more specialized needs," said Ma, adding that the addition of Frontline will give BT the localized experience to cater to industries such as financial services, local banks and call centers--industries Frontline already serves.

Additionally, BT is looking toward local governments as potential long-term clients. Ma raised the example of the Singapore government's e-health initiatives. BT supports some of the U.K. National Health Service IT initiatives, and Ma hopes the pairing of Frontline's local branding with BT's experience in the e-health industry will make BT a more attractive technology vendor here.

The integration of both companies is expected to span some two years. Ma explained the lengthy timeline as a result of both companies being "very different--one is an IT services company, another is a networking company".

During this time, it will decide which overlapping portions of both portfolios will be crossed out, although this will not be much: "just a 1 to 5 percent overlap," Ma said.

Frontline, which was listed on the Singapore Exchange, now becomes privately held under the BT Group.

BT first announced plans to acquire Frontline in December last year for US$139 million at the time.