Automatic Data to Invest in Exult, Form Venture

Automatic Data Processing Inc., the nation's largest payroll processor, will invest up to $50 million in Irvine online personnel manager Exult Inc., and the two will form a joint venture to provide human resources services to large companies.

The companies said in a news release that Automatic Data will buy $20 million worth of Exult shares based on the average per-share price for the last 30 days. The Roseland, N.J., company also agreed to buy an additional $30 million worth of stock in the "next few years" as long as the venture's sales meet expectations.

Exult, which went public early last year, has been building a service to manage human resources over the Internet for major corporations.

Automatic Data's initial investment would give it 1.3 million shares, or a 1.4% stake.

Exult gained 7 cents Tuesday to close at $15.34 on Nasdaq. Automatic Data lost 54 cents to close at $54.11 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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