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IBM sale to China gets clearance

The historic sale of IBM's personal computer business to Chinese firm Lenovo was approved by American security officials yesterday, despite the misgivings of some Washington politicians.

IBM announced the $1.75bn (£900m) sale in December, marking the end of an era for one of the best-known symbols of corporate America. IBM brought the PC to the mass market when it launched its first desktop computer in 1981.

Some on Capitol Hill were concerned that the impact of the sale might be more than sentimental, handing important technology to the Chinese. Fears were also expressed that a Chinese firm would be awarded sensitive government contracts and that workers based in America could be industrial spies.

A Chinese government agency will hold a stake of just under 30% in Lenovo after the deal is completed.

Lenovo, now based in Beijing, will open headquarters close to IBM in Armonk, New York. IBM expects the deal to be completed in the second quarter, when Lenovo will become the third largest maker of PCs in the world.

Stephen Ward, the IBM executive who will become the new boss of Lenovo, said the sale had won "unanimous agreement" from the members of the committee on foreign investment in the US.

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