IBM and Dassault Systèmes (DS) have signed an agreement under which DS intends to acquire IBM sales and client support operations encompassing DS's Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software application portfolio, as well as customer contracts and related assets, for approximately US$600m in cash.

In a statement the firms' said that DS and IBM have also defined the next steps in their long-standing relationship, and plan to establish DS as an IBM Global Alliance Partner and expand their services partnership.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2010, subject to the execution of local agreements and completion of regulatory processes and applicable labour relations requirements in various countries.

While the transaction is being completed, both companies expect their existing operations, including customer service and product availability, to continue as usual.

"The adoption and integration of PLM and 3D collaboration by a growing number of enterprises require deep industry knowledge," said Bernard Charlès, president and CEO of Dassault Systèmes.

"The planned integration of the IBM sales force and related business operations represents the largest investment in our corporate history.  We are putting our customers and partners first, creating a globally efficient sales organisation to bring the value of V6 PLM applications to every enterprise in every industry."

"We are reaching a new level of customer engagement built on commitment, multi-industry knowledge and high-value solutions for sustainable innovation," added Charlès. 

"Looking forward, the wide adoption of 3D lifelike experience and PLM will require the combination of direct sales, our network of partners and online communities."

IBM and DS expect to continue to jointly invest in developing, deploying and supporting client PLM environments, delivering integrated PLM solutions to their clients worldwide.

"With this announcement, IBM is evolving its partnership with DS to better align our mutual strengths and better address our clients' PLM needs," said Tom Hawk, general manager, IBM Global Industrial Sector.  "This transaction also helps fuel IBM's focus on PLM integration through middleware, business transformation and application services, and dynamic infrastructure."