Optical/IP Networks

Alcatel, Lucent Need One More Blessing

Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) are now only a few steps away from exchanging vows following approval for their merger from shareholders on both sides of the Atlantic. (See Investors Say Oui to Alcatel/Lucent.)

Based on a preliminary count at its meeting, Lucent got just enough support to pass its resolution. Needing a simple majority, the merger motion was backed by voters representing 51.97 percent of its common stock.

That didn't stop Lucent, whose CEO Pat Russo was treated to some entertaining investor comments, noting in its press release that shareholders voting at the meeting "had overwhelmingly approved" the merger. (See Alcatel-Lucent Deal Approved and Fashion Victim.)

Support from Alcatel's investors, who had been subjected to a number of calls to vote against the deal, was stronger. (See Alcatel Lucent Merger Under Fire, Could CDMA Hurt Alcatel Lucent?, and Analyst: Alcatel Should Rethink Things.)

The French vendor required the support of 66.6 percent of those voting on the 16 separate resolutions that related to the Lucent merger. An Alcatel spokesman says all the resolutions were passed "by at least 85 percent."

Both companies plan to publish further details about the shareholders' votes in the coming days.

Now the two firms face one remaining significant hurdle -- approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which examines the security implications of U.S. mergers and acquisitions that involve overseas companies.

If that committee finds that no investigation into the proposed merger is needed, a "no action" letter, signifying approval, could be in the post in the next few days. That's because an initial decision about an investigation has to be made within 30 days of the companies' formal submission, and that submission was made some time between August 8 and 23.

If an investigation is required, a decision won't be forthcoming until early to mid November.

Prudential Equity Group LLC analyst Inder Singh doesn't foresee the CFIUS causing any problems. In a research note issued late Thursday, Singh writes that Lucent's proposal to create a separate subsidiary for its sensitive government contracts and R&D work should be enough to avoid a CFIUS probe.

The two companies plan to complete their merger during this calendar year.

Lucent's stock, which currently stands at $2.27, hasn't budged since the shareholder vote. Alcatel's share price is also relatively static at $11.85.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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