Precept Project Management to design and procure internet centres for expansion of GE's digital subsidiary.
Project management firm Precept Programme Management has been selected by US technology company General Electric to oversee its expansion into the European digital power supply market.

The American firm's subsidiary, GE Digital Energy Systems, is offering a one-stop package for European telecommunications, internet and pharmaceutical firms.

GE will finance, design, construct and manage "power centres" and small on-site power stations. These provide a secure source of electricity for essential and energy-hungry IT systems.

The firm expects to create a £1.5bn operation worldwide by 2004.

Precept will oversee the design and procurement of the units. Director Andy Wheaton said the firm was delighted at the deal. He said: "It's a fantastic opportunity. We are overjoyed. It's an enormous chance for us to explode into Europe." Wheaton said Precept wanted to bring together European contractors, architects and consultants to work on the programme.

It’s a fantastic opportunity. We are overjoyed. It’s a chance for us to explode into Europe

Precept director Andy Wheaton

He said: "GE is enlightened enough to realise you cannot just export US culture and US teams into Europe." Wheaton stressed that GE and Precept were already capable of installing the centres in large European countries and planned to start the first project this summer.

He said some suppliers were already on board but refused to name them.

Wheaton said: "There is a basis for creating medium-term relationships with suppliers that will be influenced by performance, not price. We are not looking for rock-bottom fees. We think we will generate enough jobs for firms to work with us regularly." Steve Rowe, GE's operations director, said the firm picked Precept because it fitted in with GE's company culture, and has a similar approach to solving problems. He said: "Precept is very process-orientated." Other markets targeted by the joint venture include the financial services and biotechnology sectors. Wheaton said: "It's anything where power is critical." GE beefed up its design capability for the power centres earlier this year by buying Washington-based Engineering Design Group, which is to handle the concept design of the plants.

Sussex-based Precept, formed in 1998, said last year that it planned to take on dominant US construction firms Bechtel and Fluor Daniel.