Optical/IP Networks

Alcatel Lucent: Nearly There

Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) look to be only days away from being able to tie the knot and merge their businesses. (See Alcatel, Lucent Seal Deal and Alcatel/Lucent Decide on New Name.)

Reports from outside the Washington, D.C., security hearing attended by the two firms earlier this week, and comments made by Alcatel's CFO at a separate event, suggest that the wedding bells are being prepared and the honeymoon booked. (See Alcatel, Lucent Face Security Grilling and Russo, Quigley Go to DC.)

News agencies attending Tuesday's House Armed Services Committee (HASC) meeting reported Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, chairman of HASC, as saying the review of the merger by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was completed on November 6.

Once the CFIUS completes a review, it sends its findings to the office of the President of United States, who then has 15 days to decide whether to approve the transaction in question. That means President Bush has until November 21, next Tuesday, to announce a decision. (See Alcatel/Lucent Wait on W OK.)

Congressman Hunter is wary of the merger, believing that foreign ownership of Lucent's Bell Labs , which does a lot of U.S. military-related work, could create a security risk. Reuters reported Hunter as telling reporters outside Tuesday's hearing that HASC would be "pursuing more information."

But the new agency also reported Congressman Jim Saxton, who attended the HASC hearing, as saying that the merger deal, "as it is structured, is going to be successful. I don't see anything stopping it at this point."

And while Hunter may be seeking further information, he may be getting that after the deal has been given the President's blessing. In answer to questions about the progress of the merger deal, Alcatel told Light Reading: "As soon as we announced our merger in April we began our dialogue with members of Congress. That dialogue continued last Tuesday with members of the committee and will continue after the merger is done. We look forward to completing our transaction by the end of the year."

And on Wednesday this week, Alcatel's CFO Jean-Pascal Beaufret told a Morgan Stanley conference that, following the HASC hearing, Alcatel is "confident we can close shortly."

All of which points towards a possible announcement on Monday or Tuesday next week that the final required approval from CFIUS has been granted and the deal can be closed.

An announcement on Sunday is also possible, though –- the two vendors announced their intention to merge on the first Sunday in April this year.

Beaufret also told the Morgan Stanley conference that about 90 percent of the 9,000 jobs that are expected to be cut following the merger will be made in "high wage countries" in North America and France.

Separately, Light Reading has learned that Alcatel's chief marketing officer, Alan Mottram, will be appointed to head up the merged company's U.K. and Ireland operations. Lucent's CMO, John Giere, will retain that role in the merged company. (See Lucatel Names More Execs.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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