Amstrad joins Sega in games business

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AMSTRAD, the business and consumer electronics manufacturer, is to form a joint venture with Sega, the Japanese video games company, to produce personal computers that can be used as games machines. They will be made by Amstrad, which will distribute them exclusively throughout Europe from autumn this year, and in Australia and New Zealand from 1993.

A spokesman for Sega said he expected about 200,000 of the computers to be sold in Europe in the first year, rising to 400,000 the year after. It is expected that the computers will be made at Amstrad facilities in the Far East.

Amstrad specialises in word processing and business computers after virtually abandoning the computer games market. But recently it has become a firm believer in the potential for personal computers because of the boom in sophisticated video games. Sega and its rival, Nintendo, dominate the video games market, particularly in those games that use dedicated consoles. Amstrad confirmed the joint venture with Sega, but would not comment on prices in advance of the official launch.

Amstrad is also poised to re- enter the music world with the introduction on Thursday of personal audio systems. At the same time, the company will launch new generations of satellite television receivers.

In its main computer markets, Amstrad has been hit by severe recession and fierce cost-cutting by almost all manufacturers. This has helped to drive the company's expansion into more consumer- oriented products, including video telephones.