TOKYO (Reuters) –
IBM (IBM.N) and Japanese office equipment maker Ricoh Co Ltd (7752.T) will start sharing each other's sales network this year and promote their servers and printers together, the Nikkei business daily said on Thursday.

The alliance will enable them to offer corporate clients International Business Machines Corp's servers and Ricoh's copiers and printers as a comprehensive office information technology system, the Nikkei said.

Ricoh expects the new business ties with IBM to help boost its sales by 100 billion yen ($1.10 billion) in two to three years, the newspaper said.

The Tokyo-based company, which competes with Canon Inc (7751.T), Xerox Corp (XRX.N) and Konica Minolta Holdings (4902.T) in copiers and printers, forecast 2.15 trillion yen in sales for the current business year ending March.

IBM and Ricoh will start handling each other's products in their U.S. sales channels in spring 2009, with the cooperation set to expand to other regions including Europe and Asia eventually, the paper said.

Officials at Ricoh, which in 2007 bought IBM's digital commercial printer business for $725 million, were not immediately available for comment.

Digital commercial printers are used to print big documents such as product manuals and direct mail quickly and in large volumes, and are one of the fastest-growing segments of the office equipment market.

Thursday is a public holiday in Japan.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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