Business-to-business communications company

Primus Telecommunications

(PRTL)

said Wednesday that computer giant

Hewlett-Packard

(HWP)

is investing $50 million in the company as a part of a broad strategic alliance.

The deal comes as part of McLean, Va.-based Primus' efforts to upgrade its global broadband network, which is designed to help small- to mid-sized companies develop their Web-based businesses. The company has

inked deals with other B2B Web companies as part of that strategy.

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Under the terms of the alliance, Palo Alto, Calif.-based H-P will provide technological support for Primus, which intends to build global data-warehousing centers in the U.K., Germany, France, Australia and Canada by year-end. The first 10,000-square-foot center will be built in the U.K. by June, said John DePodesta, co-founder of Primus and executive vice president, in an interview. Another four centers will built around the world by the end of the year, DePodesta said.

"

The deal really validates much of what we're about," DePodesta said. The investment by a blue-chip name like H-P signals that "Primus is emerging as a true global player."

"With its secure broadband data network, established distribution channels and more than 2 million customers in the world's major markets, Primus is an ideal partner for H-P," said Craig White, senior vice president and general manager of

H-P Technology Finance

, in a statement.

The deal comes on the heels of solid day Tuesday on Wall Street for Primus. Paul Saferstein, analyst with

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

, introduced a price target on the company of $81 on the basis of its strong growth prospects. Primus shares closed up 4 13/16, or 11%, at 47 1/2.