Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Data Corp., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Group, has acquired an unspecified stake in Gemplus Corp., the French smart card company announced.

"Gemplus is moving away from its original investors and is looking for long-term strategic partners," said Patricia Neptune, a Gemplus spokeswoman. General Electric Co. is one of the company's U.S. investors.

In other announcements:

Gemplus said it has established a North American research and development center in Montreal, where the company said it will invest $20 million over the next three years.

Gemplus released a reprogrammable smart card for loyalty programs.

Gemplus made available an antenna module for contactless smart cards. The module reduces the costs of manufacturing contactless smart cards by 20%, the company said.

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