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Tel Aviv-based software giant Ness Technologies is acquiring an 180-man Czech software house, APP Group.

Ness, a privately-held company, is using 5% of its equity, worth about $16 million, to buy 100% of the Prague-based firm's shares. After the deal, APP's name will be changed to Ness Czechia.

APP develops technologies based on SAP's ERP and CRM systems, as well as on Microsoft and BEA products. Its shareholders include Warburg Pincus (70%), which also holds 20% of Ness's shares, and private investors.

Ness' strategy is to expand in international markets, mainly in the United States and Europe, through acquisitions. Its international arms include Ness Benelux in Holland, Ness SA in Switzerland and Ness U.K., in England.

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In November 2001 Ness bought the assets of Blueflame, the U.S. subsidiary of Aztec, and changed its name to Ness U.S.A.

Ness commented that it will be completing the acquisition of a Czech company within days, and will make the announcement when the deal is formally completed, within a few weeks.

The Ness software empire, the biggest in Israel, employs about 2,000 programmers.