With a few qualms, a new survey finds that many information technology executives are in favor of the proposed merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq.

An independent survey commissioned by Arthur Andersen and involving interviews with 52 chief information officers and other senior information technology executives at large companies finds that 86 percent see the merger as providing important benefits for HP and Compaq.

Other key findings: Twenty three percent of respondents say the merger is an "excellent" idea, while less than half of that (11 percent) say it is a "poor" idea and 66 percent are somewhere in the middle.

When it comes to buying decisions, one in four say they would probably increase purchases with the combined company, while 58 percent say the merger would have little affect on purchases. Only 15 percent say they would be likely to decrease purchases.

The study consisted of telephone interviews with CIOs and other senior IT decision- makers at North American companies with annual revenue of at least $1 billion.

Most of those interviewed are customers of one or both of the companies and spend a combined $7.5 billion on IT products and services a year across a range of vendors.

"Senior IT executives are leaning in favor of the merger and clearly see more benefits from a combined HP-Compaq," says Bill Hutchison, Andersen's global consulting director for the technology industry. "Still, they view a smooth integration of the two companies as critical, along with what they perceive as the combined company's ability to deliver on what every customer wants: Quality products and good customer service.

Other major benefits seen by the respondents include the ability to serve customers better and a broader product continuum. In addition, 65 percent of those interviewed anticipate major benefits for business customers, including the ability to choose from an integrated family of products and services (33 percent) and the ability to single-source IT purchases (17 percent).

Executives also cite specific factors that are critical to success for the combined company, such as the need to deliver competitive products (42 percent), good customer service (37 percent), and the need for a smooth, effective integration of the two companies (33 percent).

The survey was done independent of both HP and Compaq. Interviews were conducted between February 11 and February 19.

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