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Stream Global Services to be bought by rival in $820 million deal

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Stream Global Services will be bought by one of its competitors, but a local economic development official said the ownership change isn’t expected to affect jobs at the company’s Watertown call center.

Cincinnati-based Convergys Corp., a large customer-management services provider like Stream, announced this week that it will buy Stream from its private equity owners for $820 million in cash, expanding Convergys’s client base and international presence.

Stream, the largest private employer in Watertown with about 700 employees, caught local officials off guard with the decision, but the move isn’t expected to affect local jobs, said David J. Zembiec, deputy CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. The agency owns the Stream building on Arsenal Street, which it leases to Stream; it is not known whether the agency will establish a similar lease agreement with Convergys Corp.

Only a year ago, Stream announced a $4.2 million expansion plan to accommodate up to 300 more employees and the addition of a major customer contract. The company hasn’t yet announced any changes to that plan.

“We didn’t know this was in the works, but it was a corporate decision,” said Mr. Zembiec, who learned about the sale this week. “As far as we know, they’re still continuing with the expansion plan, and it’s just an ownership issue. I would imagine we would have been warned if there would be a local impact.”

Calls made to Stream’s Watertown center and the company’s corporate headquarters in Eagan, Minn., were not returned Wednesday.

Convergys reported that with the acquisition of Stream, it expects annual revenue to be about $3 billion. Convergys’s customers include AT&T, Comcast Corp. and DirecTV. Clients it will acquire from Stream include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Salesforce.com Inc., Western Digital Corp. and Nike Inc.

Stream, which has about 40,000 employees, provides customer-management services in 22 countries and 35 languages. Following the closure of the deal, Convergys will have about 125,000 employees and expects a cost savings of about $25 million a year as a result.

“We believe this combination will strengthen Convergys by diversifying our client base and enabling us to offer a wider range of customer transactions in a more cost-effective manner from multiple geographies, at scale,” Andrea Ayers, CEO of Convergys, said in a release.

Stream moved into the renovated former F.W. Woolworth department store in January 2003 after receiving a 10-year tax break from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

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