SAP has launched an interest-free leasing offer aimed at helping mid-sized enterprises finance investments in IT products and services.
The offer, which is being rolled out in Germany first, allows small and medium-sized business customers to lease software and hardware as well as implementation and consulting services for a three-year period, interest free.
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"Although this financing programme will initially target companies in Germany, we aim to extend it to other countries because we see a need to provide financial support," said SAP spokesman Ralf Nitsch. "But we can't announce any other countries and launch times today because we have to examine the legal situation in each country.
"Some countries may have restrictions on interest-free leasing offers altogether," he said. "This is something that our subsidiaries and their partners will review."
Many companies in Germany are struggling to retain existing credit lines or new ones with banks amid sustained economic gloom, SAP said.
In charge of the initiative in Germany is De Lage Landen Technology Finance, which, in addition to SAP, is collaborating with Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Hewlett-Packard and IBM as well as SAP distribution partners.
The leasing initiative, which was inspired by SAP, is not limited to software products developed by the company, said Nitsch.
"It includes operating system software and other software products needed to run SAP systems," he added.
As global SAP partners, Fujitsu Siemens, HP and IBM will be involved in similar leasing programmes in other countries.
The all-in-one programme, targeting mid-market companies, is based on a scaled-down version of mySAP Business Suite, the company's line of enterprise software products designed for large corporations.
The programme, which runs on a variety of operating systems, has around 4,200 customers of which 1,700 are in Germany.
The business one programme, focuses on small firms and includes modules for sales force automation, financial management and inventory management. The programme runs on Microsoft's Windows operating systems, has 1,600 customers of which150 are in Germany.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service