Unisys Corp., one of the nation's top computer providers, has acquired a software firm whose products are expected to complement Unisys' line of banking software.

The Blue Bell, Pa.-based hardware manufacturer purchased TopSystems International, a European software vendor known for its object-oriented and open distributed application computing tools.

Unisys said it will use TopSystems as the kernel for a new subsidiary, Usoft, which will provide client-server software on a variety of computer platforms.

Unisys is committing $50 million to this software start-up. Usoft's products will be made to complement the hardware vendor's vertical market systems, such as FBA Navigator for the retail banking environment.

"Unisys sees a sizable opportunity in client-server software, and we are moving decisively to seize that opportunity," said James A. Unruh, the chairman and chief executive of Unisys.

As a result of the acquisition, USsoft can count Lloyd's Bank of London among its clients. The unit will handle local custody settlement and investment software for the bank.

Although the software company does not yet have any U.S. banks as customers, officials say the company will aggressively pursue domestic banks, particularly those that already have ties to Unisys. Usoft also will pair up with a handful of value-added resellers to approach different vertical markets, including the financial industry, according to Scott Silk, the vice president of marketing for Usoft.

The software supplied by Usoft will focus more on the back end - the server side - than has most client-server software for banks, Mr. Silk said.

In building transaction-oriented systems, such as those employed at banks, this back-end focus could prove more useful by getting Unisys "to the blood and guts applications area," Mr. Silk said.

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