French government mulls investment in Alcatel-Lucent — report

Ben Verwaayen, Alcatel CEO

The French government may buy a minority stake in Alcatel-Lucent SA (EPA:ALU) as part of efforts to protect the telecommunications equipment company’s patents, Bloomberg reported today citing insiders.

An anonymous government official said that the investment was one of the options being contemplated, after in December the company agreed a EUR2bn (USD2.6bn) financing deal with Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), partially secured with its intellectual property. The purchase is reportedly likely to be carried out via state vehicle Fonds Strategique d’Investissement SA (FSI).

Other options being considered by the government include a combination between Alcatel-Lucent and rival Nokia Siemens Networks BV, as well as an investment in the French firm’s undersea cable business. According to the sources, the government will take a decision concerning its involvement in Alcatel-Lucent after the company names a successor to CEO Ben Verwaayen.

A spokesman for the French finance ministry, as well as representatives of Alcatel-Lucent, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Bloomberg could not immediately contact a representative of the FSI for comment.

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