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Serge Kampf, Cap Gemini founder and ex-chairman, dies at 81

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 17:58

[PARIS] Serge Kampf, the founder of Cap Gemini SA who turned a network of French programmers into one of the world's largest providers of information-technology services, has died. He was 81.

He died Tuesday afternoon in his native French town of Grenoble after a long illness, a spokeswoman for the Paris-based company said.

"Serge was an extraordinary man, an entrepreneur, the likes of which are rare," Cap Gemini Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Hermelin said in a statement.

"Since the early beginnings of our industry, he understood that the business value of technology comes from and through people."

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In 1967, in a two bedroom Grenoble apartment-turned-office, Mr Kampf founded Cap Gemini's predecessor, Sogeti SA, with three former colleagues from the Compagnie des Machines Bull, the computer company today known as Bull SAS.

Amid an industry focused on computing, he saw an opportunity in selling consulting services to corporate executives challenged by the growing, and rapidly changing, landscape of technology.

Today, the firm counts IBM Corp, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co and Accenture Plc among its North American competitors.

"I have a reputation for being a man of few words," he wrote in a 2015 letter to Cap Gemini's consultants and clients. "This is because, for me, you have to start by listening if you want the other person to hear you properly."

Mr Kampf was born Oct. 13, 1934, in Grenoble, in the French Alps. He had a double degree in law and economics, and began his career in 1960 at the General Direction of Telecommunications in Paris. From there, he joined the Compagnie des Machines Bull.

By 1975, following the acquisition of two major IT services companies - Paris-based CAP and New York-based Gemini Computer Systems - his firm was operating in 21 countries.

The group, then known as Cap Gemini Sogeti, became a public company in 1985. Three years later, it joined the CAC 40 stock index.

Mr Kampf continued to build its global presence, overseeing at least eight acquisitions from 1990 to 2000, including Hoskyns Group Plc in 1990 and Ernst & Young Consulting in 2000.

He stepped down as chairman in May 2012 after 45 years leading the company, serving as vice chairman of the board until his death.

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