* European markets remain difficult
* U.S. drives 6.1 pct Q3 sales increase
* Shares down 5.4 pct
* Expects to appoint new CFO within weeks
PARIS, Nov 8 French technology consultancy
Capgemini was the biggest loser on France's blue-chip
CAC40 index after it reported slowing growth in the
third quarter and said it expects a difficult end to the year.
Technology services companies have faced increased
competition and strong pricing pressure in Europe, where
companies and governments have cut IT budgets in response to
slow growth and worries over the region's debt levels.
There was little sign of improvement from some of its main
markets, including France and crisis-hit Benelux, while orders
so far this year were below analysts' expectations.
"At 7.17 billion euros ($9.2 billion), the order intake was
slightly disappointing at face value, due to the absence of
major outsourcing deals in Q3," one Paris-based analyst said.
Capgemini shares fell 5.4 percent by 1334 GMT.
The company stuck to its full-year target for organic growth
of more than 1 percent and Chief Executive Paul Hermelin said:
"We are on track to reach this and even do slightly better
despite a fourth quarter which will be a little more difficult
Though Europe remains difficult, third-quarter sales rose
6.1 percent to 2.52 billion euros thanks to strong demand in the
U.S, the Asia Pacific region and Nordic countries. Like-for-like
sales grew 1 percent over the quarter.
The U.S, which became the company's top market this quarter
in terms of sales, reported 10.9 percent like-for-like growth
while sales in France declined 4 percent and Benelux revenue
fell by 13.8 percent.
"Our geographic mix is evolving bit by bit. The weight of
Europe is gradually decreasing in the company," Hermelin said.
The CEO added that he was still examining candidates to
replace finance director Nicolas Dufourcq, who is due to leave
the company to take the helm of France's new public investment
bank, BPI. Hermelin said he hopes to name Dufourcq's successor
within a few weeks.