The Bank of Ireland is close to awarding a seven-year IT outsourcing contract to Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), HP said Monday.

The deal would be worth US$600 million and is the largest IT contract ever signed in Ireland, HP said in a statement.

“HP is our preferred supplier and we’re now in negotiation with them. We would expect it to take four to six months before the contract is signed,” Bank of Ireland Communications Manager Anne Mathews said Monday.

“We had an exhaustive tendering process and they came out on top,” Mathews said. The decision was mostly based on price and cost savings, she said.

HP’s Services division will manage the bank’s desktops, midrange servers, mainframes, networks and printing systems, as well as providing some customer support and integration help, the Palo Alto, California, company said.

“It’s all back-office stuff, only covering part of our IT services and so there are no issues regarding confidentiality (of customer data),” Mathews said.

The bank and HP have agreed to share any savings made as a result of lower operating costs, HP said.

About 500 Bank of Ireland employees will be transferred to HP, the statement said.

HP currently supplies the Bank of Ireland with desktops, servers and storage systems, plus some support services, it said.