Famous Texan Ross Perot is back at the helm of his Dallas-based Perot Systems Inc., and the billionaire ex-politician is bringing a small branch of his software service company to Utah.

Perot Systems officials confirmed Wednesday the company has established an arm of the high-tech service company in the Beehive State, and the company plans to expand its Utah operations."We feel like Utah is particularly fertile ground," Perot Systems Vice President Don Drobney said Wednesday from his Dallas office.

The state has highly skilled, high-tech workers with a great work ethic, he said. "There is a great opportunity to move work from throughout the company to Utah."

About 40 former employees of Corel Corp. will eventually work at a Perot Systems development center in Orem. The business is not yet doing work, and some employees are still wrapping up commitments with their former employer, said Joe Boyd, head of North American operations for Perot.

Companies will send work to Utah. "As that work develops, we expect that (Utah) operation to grow," Drobney said.

The situation has occurred because of an interesting allegiance between Ross Perot and Salt Lake resident Claire Geddes, who is president of United We Stand, the grassroots citizen-action organization Perot founded when he ran for president.

In Utah, Ross Perot was the second-place vote-getter behind George Bush in the 1992 presidential race. Geddes and Perot have stayed in close touch through the years, and the businessman has frequently tried to hire her.

Geddes, who continues her work with United We Stand and lobbies for citizens issues at the Utah Legislature, said she knew about Perot's plans to start the company, and when Corel Corp. closed its Utah Valley doors in September, Geddes called Perot and told him it was time to act.

Orem resident Alan Ashton developed WordPerfect and helped put Utah on the high-tech map in the 1980s. WordPerfect later merged with Novell, and Corel acquired the word-processing software from Novell in January 1996.

In a move to improve its financial condition, Corel announced in June it would close its Orem research and development division in June.

Geddes has been hired to work as a recruiter for Perot, interviewing some of 530 displaced workers and choosing 40 for the new company.

Perot Systems is a computer services company that contracts with businesses for specialty software needs. For example, if a business needs an accounting or payroll system redesigned or re-engineered, Perot Systems would be contracted to do the work.

"We bring jobs to Utah, and we didn't even ask for any money (from the state of Utah) to do it," Geddes joked.

Perot Systems, launched in 1988, has 5,600 employees in 50 locations thoughout the world, said Bob Gilbert, who does media relations for the company.

It has an annual income near $780 million.

Perot Systems Corp. ventures announced in the past year include computer services contract with health-care companies in New Mexico and Florida, a medical imaging partnership with Kodak, a technology joint venture with the Bank of Ireland and a computer system for National Car Rental, which is based in Dallas.

Perot Systems Corp. registered for its initial public stock offering in August.