LOUVECIENNES, France - Groupe Bull, the European information technology vendor, said it has a "firm and binding" offer from Schlumberger Ltd. for its Bull CP8 smart cards and terminals unit.

Groupe Bull said Wednesday that it had entered into exclusive talks with Schlumberger, another international technical company with a major product line in smart cards. Though the companies did not release the bid amount, press reports estimated the bid to be between $282 million and $377 million.

The deal, which Bull said needs its approval and that of CP8 and Schlumberger, would help Schlumberger compete better with the smart card company Gemplus International.

Bull's board, which in November predicted "significantly negative" results for the second half of 2000, decided to divest all or most of CP8 and focus on its core business of selling servers and information technology services.

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