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AST, Internet Access Firm Enter Marketing Partnership


IRVINE — In an effort to boost sales of high-powered computers to corporate customers, AST Research Inc. said one of its new machines will offer access to the Internet through a special arrangement with Netcom On-Line Communication Services Inc.

The deal introduces a new element to the bundles of software and other goodies that computer manufacturers increasingly package with their machines.

As part of the deal, Netcom will offer a one-time discount of up to $1,000 off the company's initial start-up fees to customers who buy AST's new Manhattan Commerce Pro computer, a machine designed for corporate customers. Netcom is one of the nation's largest Internet access providers.

The Commerce Pro, which is scheduled to be introduced at an industry trade show in New York on Monday, is a key product in AST's efforts to generate new sales in the growing market for server computers. Servers are powerful computers designed to store data and software that can be accessed by other computers connected through a network.

The Commerce Pro will be priced at about $8,650.

Separately, AST said it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that enables the company to issue up to 3.84 million shares of stock to the Tandy Corp.

The shares could be used to pay part of a $96.7-million debt to Tandy due July 11. The debt is related to AST's 1993 acquisition of the computer manufacturing operations of Tandy for $111.7 million.

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