Aspective has acquired ebusiness specialist Oxygen Solutions for £18m – £8m in cash and £10m in shares.

The new company, which will have more than 220 employees, will provide ebusiness solutions tailored to particular sectors including financial services .

The application service providers sector is one of the fastest growing areas of IT and is forecast to grow to £3.2bn ($4.5bn) by 2003. Companies outsource their entire IT needs to ASPs.

Aspective's chief executive, Javaid Aziz, said: “The traditional way of managing IT is effectively obsolete. Businesses across Europe are beginning to appreciate what ASPs can deliver. The winners will be those ASPs that are able to rise rapidly and provide the most value for their customers.”

John Patterson, Oxygen's chief executive, said: “Businesses are able to focus on core competencies to drive business forward, while we ensure that critical applications are up and running quickly and with minimal resource impact.”