The firms have already been working together for the past two years to streamline and consolidate Merck's IT operations and according to Rich Branton, vice president of Global Technology Solutions at Merck, this was a large factor in the decision to award the new contract to Cognizant Under the arrangement, Cognizant said it will see its role with Merck now extended to that of a "key technology partner providing a full suite of services encompassing applications outsourcing, IT infrastructure management and business process outsourcing services". Cognizant has demonstrated a particular affinity for the life sciences market of late - in October it dished out $135m on its first acquisition and this was to buy a fellow US firm with a specialty in this field. The purchase of MarketrX, due to close this quarter, was executed primarily so that it could extend its "existing portfolio to the life sciences space", Cognizant said at the time. MarketrX provides analytics, market research, and software services and counts the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies and four of the five top biotechnology firms as its clients. Both companies operate largely around offshore delivery models in low-cost destinations, particularly India, where Cognizant has seven delivery centres, so as to remain cost-competitive in the North American and European markets.