FINLAND - Arek Oy has agreed a five-year deal to allow IBM to manage its IT infrastructure, starting immediately.

The Arek Oy information technology services company manages the shared earnings register used to calculate pensions by all the providers in Finland, and is owned by the Finnish Centre for Pensions, the central body of Finland's statutory earnings-related pension scheme, and also leading insurance companies.

Although financial details have not been disclosed, the five-year contract, signed at the end of November, will see IBM manage the IT infrastructure for Arek and the Finnish Centre for Pensions, with the transfer of infrastructure services from Arek's current provider to IBM beginning immediately.

Arek Oy said the decision followed a disappointing quality of service from its previous vendor, while IBM offered improved cost levels for the provision of its infrastructure, such as computer mainframes.

That said, Ari Ikonen, chief executive of Arek Oy, said the deal should not affect its customers as there would be no change in technology and the deal was simply a case of changing providers to offer clients a better service.

"Arek's systems are vital for the whole functioning of the statutory earnings-related pensions scheme in Finland. In choosing IBM as our service provider, we aim to achieve greater cost effectiveness, higher usability and quality of service and better management of IT-related risks," said Ikonen.

IBM Global Technology Services Finland, also added: "Arek provides core IT services for the entire Finnish pension insurance industry and is committed to providing extremely stringent service-level agreements for its own end customers. By entrusting its IT infrastructure to IBM, Arek can ensure the availability of the best technical support in every situation."

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