Acer cuts 30; notebook deal the new focus

Acer may have retrenched 30 staff from its Australian operations this week, but its eyes are firmly planted on what's ahead -- a major notebook contract with the Department of Education in Western Australia.

Acer officials were tight-lipped about the deal, saying only that it was currently "in contract negotiations" with a customer in the education sector. However, ARN understands the deal is similar to Acer's recently completed contract with the Victorian Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET)Acer's DEET contract. which ended in June this year, two years ahead of the original schedule, was reportedly valued at $67 million but Acer increased that valuation to $98.75 million once the deal was completed.

Originally signed in 1998 to provide 33,000 notebooks to Victorian teachers, Acer ended up supplying more than 40,000 machines. IBM recently won the latest DEET tender, signing a $92 million contract to supply 40,000 R30 ThinkPads and services.

In relation to the new staff cuts, Acer officials described the move as a "rationalisation", designed to "streamline" the company's business processes and reduce operating expenses. The cuts were made across the board.

"It's certainly a difficult time for every vendor," said Raymond Vardanega, Acer's marketing director. "It was a responsible decision to ensure we continue to reinforce our channel model and maintain the quality of our products and services."

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