KPN, AtCostPlus launch slimmed-down trading hub

The online trading hub with pan-European aspirations formed by Koninklijke KPN NV and AtCostPlus Holding NV was launched late and in a slimmed down form this week. Launch was initially scheduled for July 1.

Staff numbers at trading hub Proclare NV are lower than planned: When they announced the deal in April, Dutch telecommunication carrier KPN and electronic marketplace operator AtCostPlus said the joint venture would have 200 staff, but it only employs about 100.

Investors, too, are less numerous than expected. The companies had said Oracle Corp. would be a shareholder, but Proclare has launched as a 50-50 joint venture between the two of them.

”We didn’t take over staff from KPN for some services, such as billing, that we expect we won’t handle in the same manner in the future. Oracle will get convertible shares once we have determined the value of our relationship. The delay was caused by formalities with the planning,” explained Jos Houben, chief financial officer (CFO) of Proclare.

Due to the downturn in the telecommunication industry, Proclare also had to adjust the anticipated trading volume, said Houben. In April KPN and AtCostPlus said they expected to achieve volume of about 2.5 billion euros (US$2.3 billion) in the first year of operation

“KPN has cut its buying targets in half. We now expect a trading volume of 1.5 billion euros,” said Houben.

Proclare touts its trading platform, based largely on Oracle software, as a cost-saving procurement tool. Businesses can use the platform to streamline buying processes for indirect products and services, including general office supplies, contractors and IT professionals. Its largest customer is KPN itself, followed by AtCostPlus shareholder Computer Solutions Holding NV (CSS) and several PC makers, said Houben. Other potential customers, such as large financial institutions, are being approached, he said.

For now Proclare will focus on the Benelux region, but the goal is to become a significant European online business exchange, Houben said.

Proclare, in Delft, Netherlands, can be reached at

. AtCostPlus, in Den Bosch, Netherlands, can be reached at

. KPN, in The Hague, Netherlands, can be reached at