Following a strategy of growth by acquisition, SunGard Data Systems Inc., a provider of integrated financial services applications and availability services, is offering to purchase Guardian iT plc for approximately $240 million.

Guardian is a Surrey, U.K.-based suppler of information technology applications. The company, which also has expanded rapidly through acquisitions, provides business continuity, data management and high- availability IT services in Europe.

Purchasing Guardian will enable SunGard to expand its geographic reach and provide access to more facilities, platforms, network capacity and technical personnel, SunGard says. Guardian has more than 2,700 customers and operates from 35 locations. SunGard has more than 20,000 customers in more than 50 countries.

The deal is subject to acceptance of the offer by Guardian shareholders and anticompetition clearance by UK authorities. Closing is expected to occur within 90 days. SunGard has acquired approximately 100 organizations since 1996. Three-quarters involved financial system firms and the remainder are companies that provide high-availability infrastructures.

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