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Systematics' legacy fading in Arkansas.

AFTER ALLTEL INFORMATION Systems was sold to Fidelity, the business' presence in Arkansas waned. A spokesperson for Fidelity was unavailable for comment last week, and the company has been particularly secretive about its operations in west Little Rock.

When the sale to Fidelity was announced, Alltel CEO Scott Ford was upbeat that the sale wouldn't result in job losses. "This is a very strategically shifting deal for Fidelity," he said in 2003. "I think the jobs with AIS will be very safe because there is no business overlap."

But shortly thereafter, Fidelity moved its corporate headquarters from Irvine, Calif., to Jacksonville, Fla., and the top AIS jobs began migrating there as well. By the end of 2003, Fidelity moved about 300 high-paying technology jobs from the former AIS operation in Little Rock to its new home in Florida.

In January 2005, Fidelity had more than 1,120 employees in Arkansas. By the first part of this year, the number of Fidelity employees in Arkansas had fallen to 1,000, and former employees say many of the remaining jobs are lower-skill, lower-pay jobs than those for which Systematics and AIS were well known.

With Fidelity based out of state, several small community banks in Arkansas looked around for data processing services from companies that were smaller and closer to home.

"They either went in-house or they tried to outsource it ... and they found it difficult to find somebody that was here in Arkansas," said Ron Harmon, business development executive for the Celerit Corp. of Little Rock, which offers information technology services to banks.

Between 2003 and 2006, Celerit doubled its client base among banks that have less than $500 million in assets. It currently has nine clients.

A number of banks are outsourcing their IT work because they can't afford to keep up with the technology changes any longer, he said. "Or they want to get back to focusing on their core business which really is banking," Harmon said."
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Title Annotation:Fidelity National Financial Inc. purchased ALLTEL Corp.
Author:Friedman, Mark
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Oct 29, 2007
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