SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Gateway, the largest private employer in South Dakota, might hire another company to run one of its divisions.

The computer maker based in North Sioux City, N.D., advised employees Wednesday that the management of some information-technology duties might be turned over to another company.

All Gateway plants would be affected, but company officials would not say how many employees could feel the impact.

One employee estimated the move could affect hundred of employees nationwide. Gateway employs nearly 19,000 people around the world, including 5,400 in North Sioux City and about 1,500 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Any company hired to take over duties would be encouraged to hire Gateway employees, said Jim Wharton, vice president of communications. Transfers to other Gateway departments also could be an option for laid off employees, he said.

The new management of the company's internal-communication network could be in place by July.

``We'll know by the end of the month whether we continue down this road. It's got to make sense for the company, and it's got to make sense for our employees before we do it,'' Wharton said.

The company has grown rapidly since its inception 14 years ago and needs to make sure its communications infrastructure remains world class, Wharton said.