French government to bid for submarine cable unit of struggling Alcatel-Lucent

Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent

The French government wants to buy into the submarine cable business of loss-making telecommunications equipment specialist Alcatel-Lucent SA (EPA:ALU), which could sell for between EUR600m (USD783m) and EUR700m, according to French business paper Agefi.

Agefi reported today, without naming its sources, that the French sovereign wealth fund FSI was among the several parties potentially interested in Alcatel-Lucent’s unit.

As the French company agreed in December to use assets as collateral for a loan from Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) to help meet maturing debt and finance restructuring, the government is worried that intellectual property could end up in the hands of foreign banks.

In December, French paper Les Echos reported that the government was contemplating a transaction that would see France Telecom SA (EPA:FTE) buy part of Alcatel-Lucent’s submarine cable unit.

FSI and Alcatel-Lucent did not wish to comment to Reuters.

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